Letters 26 March 2009

Care providers, financial risk to clients, Lord Laming’s report… letters to Community Care appearing in the 26 March edition of the magazine

Whingeing care providers

The headline had me whooping and hollering. “Providers ally for strength”, (news, p10, 19 March), it proclaimed. Had altruism finally prevailed over decades of self-interest among adult care providers? Alas, my euphoria was short-lived.

The nature of the coming together among national representatives made it clear that the sector would have to settle for the veneer of unity of purpose rather than organisational unification.

The list of signatories is impressive. But will this drive commissioners to the negotiating table? Will local authorities cower in submission? Fat chance. Signatories will be preaching to the converted instead of fulfilling their mission: converting the unbelievers.

What about their aim? Giving providers a stronger voice in the development of personalisation. Encouraging as far as it goes, but limited. Surely, there must be more than that. Their claim that care providers should be regarded as equal partners alongside commissioners and service users is fine, but haven’t we been there before?

The agreement, Building Capacity and Partnership in Care (to which many of them were party), already provides for precisely what they are calling for. It is just that no one has paid attention to it. So why should things be any different now? If it is to be effective, it will need to be given a cutting edge.

Perhaps the most we can reasonably hope for is that the promised leadership will take a different course from the predictable culture of whingeing. Too much of what they have had to say has been reactive rubbishing. Too little of it offers a carefully thought through, realistic alternative.

Bob Ferguson, Fareham, Hampshire

Financial danger for at-risk clients

As with Rosie Warlock (Backchat, 26 February), one of my supported tenants also recently had a letter from a debt collection company alleging that she owed several hundred pounds for goods bought from a catalogue.

I asked them if they could supply me with a list of goods, dates delivered and a copy of the signature of acceptance. We are still waiting.

Social care workers have to be particularly vigilant in these cash-strapped days that vulnerable clients aren’t being defrauded.

Douglas Turner, Connect Housing

Dementia training has to be in-depth

Laing and Buisson’s study into dementia care in residential homes (news, 19 March, ) reveals a failure of staff training.

With the number of people with dementia expected to rise to one million in less than 15 years, there could not be a better time for addressing this problem.

An induction programme with a vague reference to dementia is no more adequate than the “one-size-fits-all” approach. That is why we have our own in-house dementia training for all frontline housing and care staff, including those who work in the non-specialist setting.

Our four-level training programme aims to raise awareness of dementia and its key symptoms at the foundation levels, while providing more specialist knowledge at the higher levels.

Those who deliver specialist dementia care also undertake a 14-week course leading to a certificate in dementia care, provided in conjunction with local colleges.

The final level of training then focuses on specialist dementia practice such as challenging behaviour, communication, nutrition and end-of-life care.

David Williams, head of dementia services, Housing 21

Value of social work

What is the value of social work? A few years ago this question would have raised the quip that social workers were idealistic busy bodies. For some people this perception still exists.

Social work needs to draw upon the skills and experience of the many professionals involved, with everyone working in collaboration including a public who are committed to keeping children safe.

Safeguarding children has to be a paramount consideration. There must be no let-up in tackling abuse and those responsible for causing it. Let’s hope that the merits of Lord Laming’s report are not lost in words but are a force for action.

John Walsh, by e-mail

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