Financing care homes

Your feature asks how the National Care
Standards Commission will handle situations where a provider cannot
offer a quality service in return for the rates that purchasing
authorities are prepared to pay (“Beauty or Beast”, 21 March).

In Scotland, the voluntary sector providers’
association wanted to increase the powers of the commission here to
allow it to examine contracts and their prices in cases where a
provider fails to meet standards purely as a result of inadequate
funding. The Scottish executive rejected this.

But as NCSC chairperson Anne Parker points
out, the commission will have to make a judgement as to whether a
service is financially viable. Providers may have to explain to the
commission how they will guarantee a quality service even if they
are under -funded by purchasing authorities, which is often the

Hopefully, over time, the commission will be
able to build up evidence about the extent to which the voluntary
sector actively subsidises public services.

Annie Gunner
Community Care Providers Scotland

Goldrush term is cynical

James Churchill (“The Goldrush”, 14 March)
paints a picture of local authorities “manoeuvring” to gain acclaim
for achieving such things as tenancies for people with learning
difficulties at the expense of the poor old Department of
Transport, Local Government and the Regions. From his article it
would appear that local authorities have no interest other than to
cause other statutory agencies to overspend and bring pressure to
bear on “small care homes” to change.

I see something quite different. I see many
vulnerable and dependent people who are currently excluded from the
rights and privileges others take for granted (such as the right to
tenancies, marriage, employment, freedom, safety). I also see many
front-line staff pushing with the utmost effort and commitment to
achieve social inclusion in line with the government’s priorities
but having to do this within the constraints of existing
legislation, government guidance and funding.

The business of care home providers is to
ensure social inclusion and equal opportunity, and to make our
commissioning, our protection and inspection systems fit with that,
rather than the other way round.

Ian Peasley
North Yorkshire

Croydon puts its case

I am not going to specifically comment on the
individual race tribunal case or the coverage of Croydon Council’s
position (News Analysis, page 20, 21 March), but I am moved to
write on behalf of 99.9 per cent of Croydon social services staff
in order to put their perspective.

We are proud of our record in attracting
workers and managers from ethnic minorities to Croydon social
services and just as proud of the measures taken to support them
and to combat discrimination. The departmental management team
includes two divisional directors from ethnic minority communities
as are other key management staff, including our training and
personnel managers.

This speaks volumes for our commitment to
promoting and encouraging staff from ethnic minorities. These key
managers are setting the tone for improvements in service delivery
to ethnic minority communities.

We are not complacent about the struggle to
deliver our openly publicised commitment to zero-tolerance of
discrimination, which is backed up by a race management action plan
monitored by an equalities board, including front-line staff and
managers from ethnic minorities.

Other initiatives to support staff from ethnic
minorities include:

– Support for the African Caribbean and Asian
Workers Support Group – financial and time-out.

– Training of support group members to enable
peer surgeries and mentoring.

– Staff care policy and an independent
counselling and mediation service.

– Black managers network.

– Anti-racism training programme.

– Racial harassment policy and training

– Sponsoring black managers on national

– Post of equalities manager to advise on and
solve problems.

– Sponsoring workshops and a conference to
study the practice implications of the report from the Stephen
Lawrence Inquiry.

Croydon social services recently gained the
Investors in People award, which is evidence of the good morale of
our staff and managers. We are now working towards the Investors in
Equality Award to underline our commitment to a discrimination-free
working environment for all our staff.

To sum up, Croydon social services affirms its
commitment to promoting good race relations and to fighting racism
and all forms of discrimination.

Hannah Miller
Director of social services
Croydon Council

Teenage pregnancies

Yvonne Roberts thinks my argument that more
family planning clinics have not reduced underage pregnancies is “a
bizarre leap of logic” (Opinion, page 23, 21 March).

However, an examination of the statistics in
the UK over the past 20 years shows that, even allowing for factors
such as education and unemployment, the massive increase in family
planning provision for under-16s has not had the desired effect on
underage conceptions.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence is the
Gillick ruling, which banned health professionals from supplying
contraceptives to under-16s without their parents’ knowledge. The
ruling was in place for most of 1985. During that year, attendance
at family planning clinics by under-16s was cut by a third, yet the
conception rate did not change.

These facts may not be popular to everyone
working in the field. However, good policy should be based on
evidence and the evidence is clear: family clinics for under-16s do
not reduce pregnancy rates.

Dr David Paton
Business School
Nottingham University

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