Letters to Community Care 2 July 2009

Don’t downgrade home care

I am employed as a personal carer by the social services department of a council having been employed for 10 years with qualifications at NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Care.

Recently at a meeting we were told we are being “streamlined” and that our department would not be taking on any new clients unless they were exceptional cases. We had already been told that we were an expensive option compared with agencies but we are the best qualified to take on complex cases, which we do. We were told that as our clients passed away or went into homes they would not be replaced and thus our work would eventually dry up.

I realise the brokerage service is only trying to provide the best possible value for money but my clients all pay towards their care. My clients complain that when I am away on annual leave that agency staff with which they have no relationship or rapport walk straight into their kitchen without acknowledging them put a microwave meal in the oven and then sit on the stairs chatting into their mobile phones. They have no understanding of the dietary needs and preferences of my clients.

How can this be providing a service? Sometimes we are the only people our clients see on a daily basis, and of course they want to chat to somebody. We provide consistency; it is generally the same small pool of “in-house” care staff from social services. How can there be any dignity for the elderly when somebody you have never met before or never see again provides you with the most intimate care.

What is happening to the quality of care we provide? Do the senior members of our society not deserve a good standard of care?

Elaine Willett, local authority home carer

Wales needs to put users in control

The Welsh Assembly Government’s commitment to placing “users’ views at the heart of policy and practice and every care package” is a valuable starting point for the introduction of personalisation in Wales (25 June, p9).

However, this falls well short of putting citizens in control of their support services, which is what Disability Wales’ members tell us they want.

The fundamental issue is the right of disabled people to have choice and control over support provided by the state. Instead of remaining as passive recipients of “care” assessed, provided and managed by professionals, many disabled people now want access to supported self-assessment and control of their support budgets to enable them to make their own arrangements for practical assistance.

Disability Wales, as the national umbrella body for disabled people’s organisations, is monitoring implementation of the personalisation agenda in both England and Scotland with great interest. The models of citizen-directed support being introduced in England are more far reaching and empowering than the person-centred approach being proposed for Wales. The mutual care approach being developed in Scotland rightly emphasises the need for commissioners, providers, service users, carers and the wider community to work together to achieve whole system transformation.

Whilst we fully support the development of a Welsh model for personalisation to take account of the different cultural context in which we live and work, we maintain that the core principles of service-user choice, control and empowerment must not be diluted.

Rhian Davies, chief executive, Disability Wales

BASW and Unison ought to hook up

I read with interest the discussion about the British Association of Social Workers possibly entering into an agreement with Unison and would urge all social workers to encourage such a move (7 May, p7). The British Association of Occupational Therapists realised in the 1990s that it was no longer able to provide adequate industrial relations representation to its members and entered into an agreement with Unison.

OTs who join BAOT now receive all the benefits of membership of the professional body, plus all the benefits of Unison membership. OTs and their support staff now have far more influence than they would alone, and I’m sure Unison have found that the OTs have brought a wealth of skills to the union.

Kirsten Hey, occupational therapist, Edinburgh

Social work should seek royal approval

The Queen or other members of the royal family don’t seem to visit social work teams or departments, or in my case, children’s guardian’s body Cafcass. This would be a way of bringing positive media attention to social work.

Trevor Cade, children’s guardian

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