Generation gap advice
I was delighted to read Peter White’s article about generation
gaps and how they can cause problems when elderly parents and adult
children live together.
I have been frustrated for some time by my mum and me living our
lives at a different pace – she worries that I am always busy, but
at this stage in my life I like being busy!
When she moved in, I organised three things which have helped us
live together (she did not think they needed to be formally
The first is a clear financial agreement. The second is her own
separate phone line. I strongly recommend this: she enjoys chatting
to her friends and does not complain about my teenage daughters who
are always on the phone; also, we do not answer each other’s
phones, which reduces feelings of having your privacy invaded.
Thirdly, I arranged for her to go to a day centre once a week (I
am not a social worker for nothing) and although initially she was
reluctant, it is now the highlight of her week.
I hope these ideas may help others. It is an issue which is not
talked about enough.
Name and address withheld
Diary of despair
What a desperately sad and negative diary article from the
deputy head of care at a residential school for deaf children!
Not a word about the challenges those deaf children have to face
and overcome on a daily basis. Not a word about the pleasures of
childhood and pupil successes. Not a word about the challenges of
teaching children who have very often missed out on early language
or for whom the British sign language is probably their first
No wonder the care field has such difficulty in recruiting
Head of operations,
The National Society for Mental Health and Deafness
No pay, no gain
I fear that your wish for “joined-up thinking” does not extend
far enough. While the problems of recruitment and retention may be
more acute in London, this is a national problem and includes not
just social services but the health service, education and the
police, to name just the agencies I am most used to working
In a field as labour intensive as the public services, where
there is a continual reformulation of the process by which services
are delivered, there has been an irresponsible lack of focus on the
means by which these services will be delivered by those on the
Many in locality teams have been diverted into more specialised
posts, or into the gathering army of those who check on the
beleaguered people who directly deliver the services.
In my view it is no surprise that there is difficulty in
recruiting or retaining front-line staff or those directly managing
them. The only way of improving services when there is limited
finance is to increase the pressure on those staff to “produce
more”. Clearly, those people are beginning to doubt that they want
to do these jobs.
If the public is not prepared to pay for services no amount of
dressing them up is going to lead to the improvements we would all
Second best again
The article on the star system by chief inspector of social
services Denise Platt was sensible in many respects, but was
strangely silent on one problem that clearly is affecting the
performance of social services departments, the recruitment
Children’s teams in particular struggle on heroically, carrying
vacancies and being heavily reliant on agency staff who come and
go. The government will go on talking up the little it is doing on
recruitment, but the truth is that conditions for social workers
lag behind those of other public professions. It has fallen behind
nursing and teaching on pay, it is second best to them on
recruitment – the government has produced newspaper rather than
television advertising – and it is second best on training, with no
training allowances for those wanting to become social workers,
again in stark contrast to teaching and nursing.
Perhaps as a follow up to Denise Platt’s article, the minister
would like to outline how these inequalities are to be addressed. A
well-managed service also needs enough high-quality social
Contrary to a possible reading of your report on qualification
requirements for care home managers, we understand that registered
managers of homes must have both a practitioner qualification, such
as care NVQ4, social work or nursing, and a management
qualification, the latter being either a “general” management NVQ
or the new level 4 for registered managers (adults).
It is not our job to interpret the national minimum standards
(managers should obtain their own copies of those), but we can help
the regulatory authorities and employers to meet the 2005 training
targets, by pointing out that qualifications already held can give
credit towards new ones, and by persuading the funding structures
for care training to properly reflect the requirements of new