By Peter Sharkey.
Collins Educational Limited
ISBN 0 00 3223337
Peter Sharkey describes this book as an introduction to
community care and the considerable changes that took placed in the
It is, he suggests, ‘suitable for anyone wanting a broad
overview of these changes and the current arrangements for
These are, at one level, modest objectives, but properly
executed such a text is invaluable – particularly as introductory
training material on a range of levels for a range of students.
However, this is, as it says, an introduction, and while
covering substantial territory in the course of eight chapters,
Sharkey’s touch is very light, and many complex issues are examined
Most of the chapters can be treated as stand alone sections, and
provide useful reviews of particular topics. These include
descriptive accounts of aspects of the new community care
legislation, for example, care management and assessment;
contracting and quality assurance.
Other chapters addressing some of the key issues and current
philosophical debates in community care (for example;
normalisation, user empowerment, race and abuse and harm).
The chapters include useful case study material to illustrate
particular points, together with key questions and suggested
activities to explore a range of issues.
Lists of further reading material are also appended to each
section, and this is especially useful for students who wish to
investigate in more detail the basic ground covered in the
Any book which sets out to provide an overview of a topic is
always open to the criticism that it is too broad, or that it is
already out of date, and it is perhaps slightly churlish to make
However, it is unfortunate that a book published in 1995 was
unable to include, for example, the latest guidance on long-term
care responsibilities, as opposed to the 1994 draft, which was
altered substantially; or to reflect the recent success of the
Carers (Recognition and Services) Bill in the House of Commons,
which should give carers the right to their own assessment (the
absence of this from the original community care legislation is
highlighted by Sharkey).
However, these are minor criticisms. Introducing Community Care
does not add any great new insights to the analysis of community
care policy or implementation; but it does provide a highly useful
summary of some of the key developments of current community care
For students of social policy, and for those in relevant
professional training, the book offers an accessible and concise
introduction to a subject of considerable complexity.
Melanie Henwood is an independent social policy