Funding for placements
I welcome the three-year degree in social work – we have been
waiting a long time for it to be approved. However, I share the
concerns of Cris Evans about the increased number of placements
that will be required over a three-year period if the expectation
is that every student has some kind of placement in each academic
There are limited numbers of placements available in the local
authority social services departments now that many services are
moving into health trusts and education. This is an ideal time to
bring back practice learning centres to prepare these new
workplaces, and to support the voluntary sector in accommodating
social work students. Additional funding will be necessary.
It has been obvious for some time that placement development
work is urgently needed, yet I read that the Department of Health
is setting up a task force to increase the quality and quantity of
practice placements. This includes a full review of the funding of
practice learning. Yet the government will announce the outcome
early next year!
This is extremely frustrating for all concerned. Practice
teaching co-ordinators like me have been involved in numerous
consultations about the placements crisis over the last six years.
The former social work training council CCETSW was fully aware of
the issues, the National Organisation for Practice Teaching has
been lobbying, and now we hear that there will be no news about
placement funding until next year.
The three-year degree courses are due to have their first intake
in September 2003, and I am extremely concerned for these new
social work students.
Role of advocates
Paul Jewitt, who is co-ordinating opposition to the Mental
Health Bill among approved social workers, is wrong to assert that
“ASWs are the only people in the mental health process to take a
holistic approach and actively protect the rights of the
individual”. ASWs may still agree with the medical professionals to
detain a person against their will in hospital, as at present.
Greater involvement in and understanding of the role of
independent mental health advocates by social workers and medical
professionals would ensure that those detained under compulsion are
fully supported in voicing their objection to the exercise of such
It is to be hoped that the bill’s proposals for access to
specialist mental health advocacy remain, despite opposition to
proposals for compulsory treatment of a small number of people with
severe personality disorder.
Mental Health Advocacy Services
Variations in practice
I agree that health visitors are key professionals in
identifying parenting problems, but I was concerned at the
impression that your article gave about practices.
Health visitors are a universal service offered to all parents
of new babies, but the article implied that there is uniformity in
their practices. Home visits, although a valued asset, would rarely
be offered to all families on a monthly basis. They are offered
according to need, and then on a short-term basis. The early
intervention strategy is well established in some but not all
areas, as is use of the questionnaire for identification of
Post-natal classes, parenting education, behaviour management
and support groups are increasingly available, but not everywhere.
Families and colleagues will encounter variations in practice
caused by a number of factors, including staffing and financial
constraints, which can cause conflict if they have unrealistic
Member, CPHVA Parenting and Family Support Special Interest
I was astonished to read the Diary column by a deputy head of
care at a residential school for deaf children. Astonished that any
organisation still thinks that having care staff working 42-hour
weeks, split shifts and three sleep-ins in a row will produce
anything other than tired, ineffective and ultimately burned-out
This is not to denigrate the staff themselves, who are
presumably trying to do positive work with children in what sounds
like an institutional, rule-bound setting. Do the children – who
are described as being as old as year 11 – have any choice about
being in bed by 9.30? Having worked in care homes under similar
regimes in the 1970s, I am only too aware of the effect these
conditions have on residents and staff, and I am amazed – and
disappointed – to read that these conditions still exist.
Contract development officer
Devon Supporting People Team
Councils are not racist
I was dismayed but not surprised to read Helen Best’s Viewpoint.
Her claim to be a trainer only reinforced my view that such
statements are counterproductive. A trainer, to my knowledge, is a
skilled person who by example and rational discussion helps to
change the hearts and minds of the trainees, thus enhancing
performance and personal values.
Discrimination means refusing to accept that membership of a
group does not define the individual members of that group.
Racism and discrimination are based to some measure on some
people saying that members of a particular racial, ethnic or social
group are all characterised by a particular trait. Clearly this is
calculated to create division and to engender critical behaviour or
hatred. Best does not refer to “some councils”, a “minority of
councils” or even the majority of councils. She clearly indicates
that she thinks that all councils are institutionalised racists,
reinforce bad practice, support pressure to conform to oppressive
practices, control and coerce. This is stereotyping and