Letters to Community Care 19 February 2009

Challenging discrimination in Islington care homes

Islington’s new Sexual Orientation Equalities Scheme (or ‘Gay Charter’) is thought to be one of the first in the country and aims to ensure that residents and staff who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual have their basic rights and freedoms respected.

In our care homes, it means working hard to challenge discrimination against gay or lesbian older people and acknowledging that as individuals their tastes and preferences are not best met in a one-size-fits-all service model.

Many boroughs are marking LGBT History Month in February for us, our new ‘Gay Charter’ is a source of extra celebration.

Cllr Ursula Woolley, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Islington Council

Children and alcohol

There is a great deal of uncertainty around the issue of children and alcohol and while it is welcome that the government recognises that there should be boundaries for their children about alcohol consumption, every family will be different and may set boundaries accordingly.

However, parents should also recognise that they are the most important role models in their children’s lives and how they behave around alcohol will have a real influence on their kids. A parent drinking responsibly will convey an important message to their child.

For parents experiencing alcohol problems with their teenage children our free and confidential 24-hour Parentline number is 0808 800 2222 or visit http://www.gotateenager.org.uk

Hilary Chamberlain, policy manager, Parentline Plus

Credit unions

The timing of your article on credit unions (“Creditable alternative to banks”,) was superb, coinciding with the publication of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report for 2009. The campaign announced that more than 106 million of the world’s poorest families were reached by a microcredit loan in 2007, which surpassed the goal set 10 years earlier. There are some clear parallels in the principles underpinning both credit unions and microcredit schemes: not-for-profit status, provision of low cost loans, co-operative activity.

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and founder of the microfinance movement in Bangladesh, remarked that the current success of microloans touches the lives of more than half a billion family members – half the world’s poorest people. It enhances the status and confidence of women who are the majority of recipients. It is participatory and equips people to make their own choices.

Deirdre Flegg, Social Worker, Poole

Amy Winehouse picture misjudged

Most of the time, Community Care is, rightly, very careful about the photos used to support and illustrate articles, and, hopefully doesn’t include pictures without the permission of the person involved. That’s good practice and reflects our shared values – particularly that of respect for persons – as social work practitioners. Perhaps this approach was overlooked in the choice of photo of Amy Winehouse in the February 5 issue? (“Treating drug users whose partners misuse,”) Just because she’s a ‘celeb’, doesn’t mean that a very unflattering photo is in order, unless of course she agreed to its use. Let’s hold to our value base.

Peter Mitchell, Kendal

Time to recognise the benefits of sheltered housing

Help The Aged’s report on the future of sheltered housing, and the impact of floating support, highlights a deeply worrying situation (Sheltered housing in crisis due to loss of wardens, news, 29 January, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/110520).

Sheltered housing managers help to keep the number of falls by residents low and provide support when people need it. This includes recognising potentially serious problems before they happen. Sheltered housing is a high impact, low cost preventive and much-needed service at a time when the older population is increasing.

This is the level of service that tenants expect when they choose sheltered housing. But it isnÕt a level of support that can be provided through weekly floating visits.

Some enlightened authorities have recognised this and are using the sheltered scheme manager service to support other older people in the local area. In this way, sheltered schemes are used as a hub to increase engagement and reduce isolation, making the manager service itself a floating support.

Housing 21 would also argue that supporting people in sheltered housing is an intrinsic part of housing management and should return to being part of housing benefit. This would significantly reduce the costs of administering Supporting People at a time when local authorities are looking for savings.

Melinda Phillips, Housing 21


In the light of last week’s piece on whether social care professionals should have a right of entry to people’s homes if adult abuse is suspected, Action on Elder Abuse would like to point out that its support for this idea is qualified. It said that any such power must be granted through a police warrant obtained from a magistrate and should be limited in scope and operation. More on AEA’s position at http://www.communitycare.co.uk/110677

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