Good relationship

I have rarely found social workers and
advocates to have a difficult relationship (Letters, 17

Of course there is bad social work, but
advocates’ efforts are more often directed towards the lack of
social work or the limitations of service provision than bad

Social workers are obliged to work in the best
interests of children and young people, but they know only too well
that this obligation is compromised by the limitations of the
service that they are able to offer. Advocates have no such
restriction and can therefore concentrate on drawing attention to
young people’s wishes, feelings and rights. The two roles should
therefore be seen as complementary, not in opposition.

Good social workers know that the empowerment
of children and young people contributes to their rehabilitation,
improves practice, and safeguards their welfare.

Merlin Turville-Petre
Regional manager,
Voice for the Child in Care,

No need for foisted hoist

A person employing their own personal
assistants to work in their own home, (Practice Panel, 17 January),
is not bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and has no
duty to apply the manual handling regulations (which in any case do
not ban manual lifting).

So Marcus could legally refuse to use the
hoist that was foisted on him. The National Centre for Independent
Living has been working with the Health and Safety Executive and
others to look at how health and safety issues impact on
independent living.

Concerns over the liability of service
providers should never take precedence over the comfort, safety and
dignity of service users.

Frances Hasler
National Centre for Independent Living

Codes are necessary

Ross Sutton (Letters, 24 January) thinks the
General Social Care Council’s draft codes of conduct and practice
are “another example, like mission statements and protocols, of
stating the obvious”.

To an extent that may be true. But what some
people think is obvious might not even cross the mind of someone

Social care values have been the subject of
assumption, vagueness and debate for too long. It is an exciting
development to attempt to get them agreed for the first time. And
the General Social Care Council has some very “proper” jobs to be
getting on with – not least being able to deal with allegations of
misconduct where people have failed to adhere to the codes.

The only way to do that fairly is by testing
conduct against a transparent set of principles.

Lynne Berry
Chief executive, General Social Care Council

Mental health gap

Children must not be ignored in the proposed
mental health legislation reforms (News Analysis, 17 January).

Currently there is no requirement that the
psychiatrists and social workers who are specialists in working
with children should be those who assess children under the Mental
Health Act 1983. At YoungMinds we hope this will change. We would
also like to see a requirement for conferencing all young people
whose mental ill-health is of enough concern for use of the act to
be considered.

These are among our most vulnerable young
people. They frequently fall down the gap between health and social
care, and desperately need a structure around them to ensure that
services are provided.

Dinah Morley
Deputy director,

Violence is a key factor

I agree with many of the points made by
Christine Doorly, (“Children’s services in disarray”, 10 January)
especially about the importance of domestic violence in planning
services for families. The current lack of planning is staggering
given the amount of research, media coverage and public awareness
campaigns over the years, including those in Community Care.

My own research in 1990 indicated that 20 per
cent of family cases had elements of domestic violence and 30 per
cent of children on the child protection register had mothers who
reported violence.

More recently, in 1997, I was part of a
research team led by Dr Betsey Stanko who attempted to cost
domestic violence in Hackney. Not only were the costs great, but
they were highest for social services who had to deal with the
long-term effects.

We will not begin to solve the current crisis
in child care until we have a centrally led and financed strategy
with regard to violence in families. This must not only deal with
current service needs but look to long-term effects and a viable
approach to prevention.

Bonnie Miller

Shropshire’s bold move

In our experience, the picture Phil Brough
paints of “utter contempt of power brokers” in Shropshire and years
of involvement in joint planning achieving nothing (This Life, 24
January) could not be further from the truth.

Involvement in joint planning has enabled us,
as an organisation run and controlled by disabled people, to grow
and develop services in partnership with health and social
services. For example, we are now able to run our sensory
impairment community development project focusing on combating
exclusion and increasing employment and training opportunities.

We do feel Shropshire social services listen
to us. We were involved with their recent Best Value review of
disability services and, as a result, a number of services are
transferring to us.

This is a bold move by Shropshire social
services and is being carried out in the belief that transferring
services to disabled people will improve the outcome for service
users. It is a time for celebration not denigration.

Phil Cookson
Shropshire Disability Consortium

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