Readers’ letters to Community Care 18 June 2009

The third way for personalisation

Jon Glasby’s article (“A matter of perception”, 28 May) reflects a depressing shallowness of the debate on personalisation in this country.

He sees the social care profession divided into two camps – those who believe the up front resource allocation process and individual budgets are a good thing, and those who don’t. And those who don’t are either failing to grasp the thinking through some form of intellectual shortcoming, or are simply irrationally committed to the status quo.

He fails to see a third option – whereby the criticism of the status quo for its failure to deliver personalised services is fully agreed, but that there are other, potentially better, routes to achieving the transformation required. The key question is what is meant by personalisation? – is it about creating services that are flexible and responsive and give people the quality of life they seek, or is it about delivering the new processes around individual budgets?

The latter is no more than a process, and if we fall into the trap of thinking delivering the process will deliver the vision then it is likely we will do exactly the same as happened with the community care reforms, when the process of delivering purchasing systems and new markets was successfully delivered with not an ounce of benefit to service users in terms of quality.

While all this is going on there is no attention being given to what most service users want: for the services they get to do the job they want, and without having to take on all the responsibilities of being their own commissioner and purchaser. But there is work going on in pockets that can show a way forward. Emerging understanding of what it takes for commissioned services to deliver the outcomes people want – and not just a series of outputs – holds a key to achieving this vision.

Colin Slasberg, independent consultant, Essex

You don’t want home too close to work

Keith Popple’s suggestion (The Big Picture, 11 June) that social workers should live and work in the same area is ill-advised.

Many social workers, particularly those working in child protection, face regular abuse, threats and intimidation while attempting to carry out their work. What they most want at the end of the working day is to get as far away as possible from the source of that abuse. It can be very unsettling to bump into someone at the bus stop or supermarket who has previously launched a tirade of abuse at you.

Name and address withheld

Personalisation is just cost-cutting

Personalisation is a sham and a deceit to both social workers and their clients. When told about this new method of social work a very experienced friend said she initially thought it was about putting relationships at the centre of the social work task but was disappointed to find it was just another way of cutting costs.

Apart from the very few articulate, powerful and well-supported people, most other clients will be unable to get the personalised funds they need and will certainly not be able to manage the complicated minefields of buying private services. The government wouldn’t be introducing this unless it saved them money. Shame on directors for slavishly promoting this nonsensical concept.

Ross Sutton, Reading

Are police checks doing the business?

We are currently awaiting the outcome of the Vanessa George case in Plymouth. While no accusations at this stage have been aimed at social services no doubt over the coming weeks social workers will once again be in the firing line.

Since 2002 it has been obligatory for all persons working with children or vulnerable adults to be police checked as part of the employment process.

Prior to 2002 I was a registration and inspection officer. At that time it was incredibly difficult to get the police to undertake checks. Although prospective employees were required to sign a consent to police check form there was still the issue of full or limited checks. In some police stations it was possible to pay £10 and walk out with your own police check result.

The problem with police national computer checks now is they can only really be undertaken when following up serious concerns. More police forces talk to each other these days and share information, but there are still problems and delays with getting these checks undertaken. Should a person only be employed under strict supervision, or not at all, until the result of the check is known?

Diana Newnham, France

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