Final news reports from Community Care Live 2002

All the latest news from Community Care Live 2002 staged
at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London:

Reports from Thursday 23 May (see below for reports from
Wednesday 22 May, including speech from health minister Jacqui

New guidance for infant disabled children

Community Care Live delegates were the first to hear of draft
consultation guidance on services for disabled children aged 0-2
years, writes Natalie Valios.

The department of health and department for education and skills
set up a working party to develop the guidance. It comprised
representatives from government, social services, voluntary
organisations as well as parents of disabled children, and was
chaired by Paul Ennals, chief executive of children’s charity

About 3 per cent of children between the ages of 0-2 are
estimated to be disabled.

The guidance highlights ways to make life easier for their
parents, including early diagnosis, accurate and timely
information, joined up assessments, family-held records and key

Currently, parents often experience a lack of sensitivity at the
point where the child is diagnosed; inconsistent patterns of
services; lack of co-ordination; and a lack of information.

“One mother had had 350 appointments for her 18-month-old
disabled child,” Ennals told the audience.

The guidance outlines proposals for a family service plan. This
would be a written report of the assessment describing the child,
family and the services they need. It would also name a

It is proposed that as part of the keyworker role, the worker
would have a budget to be used to solve an immediate problem, for
example paying for a taxi when it’s too complicated for a family to
get a bus to the speech therapist, explained Ennals.

Other suggestions include “debugging the system” by
appropriately sharing information between professionals while
protecting confidentiality, and providing practical support to

Ennals is hoping that a “slab of money” will be announced in
Chancellor Gordon Brown’s comprehensive spending review in the
summer to help reshape and build on services for disabled children
aged 0-2.

After consultation, the resulting guidance will feed into the
national service framework for children. Guidance for Sure Start
projects working with disabled children aged 0-2 is also expected
in a few weeks.

“Together From the Start: services for disabled children 0-2 and
their families” at or

President calls for £30,000 pay norm for social

Some of the money the government has given to social services
should fund pay increases for social care staff, said Mike
Leadbetter, president of the Association of Directors of Social

Leadbetter, also heads Essex social services, said: “Some of the
six per cent the government promised will need to go on salary

He also said that average for experienced social workers should
be £30,000 a year.

When asked by delegates whether this should be an average for
all local authorities, he said that this could not be achieved
because councils will always pay differing rates. However, the
market was pushing wages up to the £30,000.

“When Essex paid an extra £2,000 to its social workers we
took staff from neighbouring councils such as Hertfordshire and
Suffolk. They then increased their wages attracting staff from
their neighbouring councils. This process will continue to push up
wages.” He also said that wage problems existed at all levels, for
example “care workers earned £6 an hour but could go and stack
shelves in a supermarket for £7.50 an hour”.

Leadbetter also looked at other factors that could help improve
recruitment and retention in local authorities. These included
improving the culture of the organisation, offering career breaks
and secondments, providing differing routes to becoming a qualified
social worker such as open learning or in-house training, and using
support or clerical workers to take on some of the non-essential
social work tasks such as form filling.

Government urged to set up national child protection

The government has been urged to set up a national child
protection board to co-ordinate policies, writes David

Norfolk social services director David Wright told Community
Care Live delegates the board should be steered by a cabinet

Wright said: “We need government support when the cock-ups
happen to ensure the other agencies are called to task. Where is
the accountability in the other agencies, where it gets beautifully

He said all the different agencies must communicate more
effectively: “We cannot be allowed to plough our own furrows.”

He also called for area child protection committees to be put on
a statutory footing, repeating a call from other organisations such
as the Association of Directors of Social Services.

Catherine Watkins, who is team manager for a children and
families assessment team in West Sussex, said that other agencies
should be more focused on child protection work, and she called for
mandatory child protection training for staff from all

Peter Beresford, who is chairperson of the user-led body Shaping
Our Lives, said children must be heard in child protection cases,
and asked why Victoria Climbie was not asked about her situation
using a French interpreter.

“The crucial and defining issue from the murder of Victoria
Climbie is that no-one listened to her or spoke to her and no-one
asked her about what was happening,” he said.

Child sex abusers can be called ‘paedophiles’

Nearly two thirds of child sexual abusers fulfil the same
criteria applied to adult paedophiles, Eileen Vizard, clinical
director of the Young Abusers Project, told delegates,
writes Natalie Valios.

Vizard said that children and adolescents under 17 cannot be
given a psychiatric diagnosis of paedophilia as it is assumed that
paedophile interest in other children does not occur before that

The Young Abusers Project, now managed by the NSPCC, has seen
330 cases since it began in 1992. Girls comprise about 10 per cent
of cases. Learning difficulties, maternal abuse and an interest in
sexually abusing animals were prevalent features in girls who
sexually abuse other children.

Almost 63 per cent of children presenting at the project had
serious psychiatric problems. ‘If services are being set up
without mental health input then these children are being deprived
of the right help,’ warned Vizard.

The project is hoping to get funding to carry out research into
dangerous severe personality disorders in children. ‘We need
to find ways of identifying the few children who will go on to
commit very dangerous crimes,’ she added.

Professionals must promote pre-trial therapy for

Child care professionals must promote the use of pre-trial
therapy for children who have been sexually abused, child sex abuse
expert Tink Palmer told Community Care Live delegates,
writes Lauren Revans.

‘All children now have a right mandated by government for
pre-trial therapy,’ Palmer said. ‘We all need to make
sure that we are in a position to offer it.’

Palmer, who leads the Barnardo’s Bridge Way Project in
Cleveland, said only 42 of the 483 children dealt with between
December 1994 and January 2000 were required as witnesses in
criminal proceedings.

She said it was essential to push for intermediaries to be
allowed to represent very young children deemed too young to be
witnesses in criminal proceedings to ensure more convictions.

‘People like me should be the mediator that goes to court
to say this is what happened to that child and it cannot be
anything other than that because of the persistency and consistency
of the theme of the child’s behaviour,’ she said.

Children at the project who are due to give evidence in criminal
proceedings are promised that everything will be done to prevent
their case files being disclosed to a third party, but are not
given an absolute guarantee.

However, Palmer said that of the 42 cases over the five year
period, she had been subpoenaed to produce files on only three
occasions. Each time she had pleaded public interest immunity and,
although papers were still referred to in court on one occasion, no
information from any therapy sessions was revealed.

Palmer stressed that the police and Crown Prosecution Service
should be informed before any pre-trial therapy begins, but that
they had never objected to it.

She added that pre-trial sessions must be held on an individual
basis and be well documented, and that the therapist must not ask
questions directly related to the specific case or alleged

Reports from Wednesday 22 May: 

Children’s Fund head points to new intervention services in

New early intervention services based in schools for children in
difficulty are likely to be announced in the forthcoming spending
review, according to the head of the Children’s Fund,
writes Frances Rickford.

Kathy Bundred said she hoped the new school-based services would
be an example of new initiatives for children and young people,
which are based on partnership changing mainstream services. The
new services are most likely to be provided by voluntary sector
organisations, and would give additional support to children who
need it at an early stage.

Sure Start’s head Naomi Eisenstadt said it was too early to know
about outcomes for children, but said lessons were being learnt
about how to deliver services to the poorest families. She said
there was still a reluctance among some people to spend public
money on children under five, although the impact of living in
poverty was greater on young children than other age groups.
Building services designed on community views was not always
straightforward when there were very diverse views within

Every estate has six “loud mouths” who can absorb a high
proportion of staff time, and discourage other parents form getting
involved, she said. She also admitted that some Sure Starts had
difficulty reaching out to those very vulnerable families who were
reluctant to use services but needed support.

She said that setting up the projects took much longer than they
thought, and that many agencies found partnership working very
difficult. Flexibility and very practical support was the key to
building local confidence – and it was not possible to respond
flexibly to local community needs if service models based on
evidence of “what works” were imposed from above.

She said many parents had gained a great deal from involvement
in Sure Start, and there were examples of families trying to get
housing transfers onto estates where there were Sure Start

Martin Barnes, director of the Child Poverty Action Group,
welcomed the government’s “bold” pledge to abolish child poverty in
20 years, but criticised ministers for failing to admit progress
had been disappointing.

Instead, when figures showed the number of children living in
households with incomes less than 60 per cent of average had fallen
by only half a million instead of the 1.2 million predicted by the
treasury, the government “went into overdrive” to deny that they
had failed to hit the target by using a measure of absolute instead
of relative poverty.

Barnes said if you “pick and mix” different measures of poverty,
you undermine the credibility of the pledge itself. He pointed out
that child poverty levels were still scandalously high in some
communities, with 73 per cent of children in Pakistani and
Bangladeshi families living in poverty, and 41 per cent of all
children living in London.

Minister announces details of new social work degree

All future social work students will have to demonstrate their
ability to work “confidently and effectively” with other
professionals under new requirements for training announced by
health minister Jacqui Smith, writes Janet

She said the new three-year social work degree course would also
focus on communications skills as well as areas such as law and
human growth and development . She added that the new qualification
would “put social work on a par with other graduate

Smith said when she originally trained as a teacher, courses
“lacked rigour” and theory and practice and were delivered as two
separate strands. It was important to avoid the same mistakes in
social work training.

“Social work, like teaching, is a very practical job. It is
about protecting people and changing their lives, not about being
able to give a fluent and theoretical explanation of why they got
into difficulties in the first place,” she told a packed hall.

She said the new degree courses must ensure that theory and
research directly informs and supports practice. “That is why
students will spend a minimum of 200 days learning in practice
settings,” she explained.

The department of health is setting up a task force to increase
the quality and quantity of practice placements. This will work
with employers and higher educational institutions to ensure
employers are providing enough high quality practice placements for
tomorrow’s social workers.

The minister said the government would be undertaking a full
review of the funding of practice learning and will announce the
outcome early next year.

She also told the conference that the £15 million training
strategy implementation fund, announced in February, is to be used
to support 26,500 staff to undertake a range of training
opportunities including induction training and improving National
Vocational Qualification award structures by training staff to
become NVQ assessors, mentors and verifiers.

This would “enable employers to be able to train their staff and
managers….. and promote a culture of lifelong learning and
continuous professional development within social care.”

Turning to the issue of joint working she stressed that health
and social services must work together in partnership, and that
could be achieved either through Section 31 partnership
arrangements or care trusts.

“Social care professionals have much to teach health workers
about being user centred,” she said. “I believe that social
services does have a special approach which the NHS can learn from,
an approach that should be nurtured and maintained. But I also
believe that social services can learn from the NHS.”

Smith added that the department of health had been notified of
over 100 sites that are using the flexibilities now available,
spending over £1billion, with over half of them led by local
authorities. And many more sites have expressed an interest.

Click here
to read a full text of Jacqui Smith’s

Local authorities fail homeless people with alcohol and drug

Homeless people with alcohol and substance misuse problems are
being failed by local authorities, delegates heard,
writes Keith Sellick.

A lack of resources and strict criteria about provision led to
difficulties in referring homeless people with dual diagnosis to
social services in Hampshire. Projects are having to use the
voluntary sector, which is more flexible about treating clients and
quicker in providing services.

Trish Padwicke, who works for the Reachout project in Hampshire,
said that even though local authority awareness of homeless people
with dual diagnosis was improving, it was still necessary to use
voluntary sector services.

Rosemarie Driver, resettlement manager from May Place House in
Basingstoke, which houses homeless people, said that referral to
local authority alcohol services can take anything between four and
12 weeks. She said that: “Local authority services did not give
this client group enough recognition. Where they did provide
services they were often understaffed or lacked resources.”

Both speakers gave examples of clients where voluntary sector
services were used because of lack of council provision or where
clients did not fit council criteria. For example, one client
“Simon”, who had a history of alcohol abuse, was not housed by the
local authority because he had left his wife and child and so had
made himself intentionally homeless.

The session looked at Maca’s work in assessing homeless people
and settling them in accommodation. The Reachout project works with
other agencies to provide services for homeless people with dual
diagnosis, and May Place House provides housing and support for a
six-month period to enable clients to live back in the

Government told delayed discharge focus damages other
council services

The head of community care at Kensington and Chelsea council has
launched an attack on the government saying it is focusing on
reducing the number of delayed discharges to the detriment of other
local authority services, writes Anabel Unity

Peter West told delegates: “Our beef in social services is that
the only thing Tony Blair knows about us is whether our discharge
rates are up or down. It is a very narrow and distorting

He said councils were also concerned and anxious about health
minister Alan Millburn’s proposals for local authorities to
reimburse hospitals’ costs for each day after a patient who is
ready to be discharged stays in hospital.

West added that in order for housing for older people to be
planned effectively a statutory partnership had to include
supported housing providers, community care and primary care
trusts. He said: “We have had enough of this separate planning from

Also addressing the same session, Anchor Homes director Barbara
Laing said the government’s current policy of increasing the
number of people being discharged from hospital meant more
appropriate services needed to be provided.

She said: “This policy requires rapidly expanding care capacity
in the community. Such development of services relies on good
collaborative working.”


















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