Letters to Community Care 9 July 2009

Big Brother and disabled people

It is quite something to criticise a TV show for not putting people with disabilities on it, while showing a distinct lack of awareness of disability issues (“Why no disabled people in Big Brother?”, Service User Voice, 2 July, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/bbdisblog).

Firstly, how do you know there was no one on the show with disabilities? What about hidden disabilities?

I am not an avid viewer of the programme – I see it as a rather vulgar and exploitative attempt to ridicule people, like a modern day freak show. But it is clear to me that there are many people with mental health difficulties or some cognitive impairment who appear on Big Brother.

I’m not sure why holding anyone up to public ridicule is ever a good thing. In fact I would think it was entirely contrary to social work values.

Pip, Responding online

I do get tired of the cultural snobbery thrown at Big Brother. It has democratised fame, which is no bad thing in my view. Those who go on it do so with their eyes open. Having been a viewer of Big Brother for 10 years I can only think of one instance where a person with a mental health problem has been in the house and he was gone in a week.

I am not sure how it fits with social work values but my experience is that most social workers are very interested in people. Which is a nice way of saying we are insufferable gossips. And Big Brother is about people. Vain, self-absorbed people but people all the same.

Why no disabled people? Maybe nobody interesting enough with a disability applied. Mikey was on last year and did well and Pete won it a few years ago. But they would have got in regardless of their disability as their personalities were so big.

Peter Corser, Responding online

Residential care must improve

I recently gave up the post of home manager in a residential care home because I felt that my view that providing good care costs money was not listened to.

Poor training and wages, high levels of sickness, low staffing levels and rapid staff turnover all contribute to a low quality of life for older people. Inspectors do not challange poor practice enough. We need more unannounced visits.

I am now working with a training provider aiming to improve practice. Carers need to be professional, highly skilled and committed. Communication is an important part of the role and many workers want to improve their English. Residents say these workers work hard but there are communication difficulties. Daily interaction with residents is a basic and necessary need.

Today’s care is no better than that of 20 years ago. This is being left unchallanged, which is unacceptable.

Debbie Gardner, Plymouth

Code blocks social work recruitment

Several UK councils have chosen to abide by the international social care code of practice for international recruitment, which discourages recruitment of social workers from developing countries citing ethical reasons. This outdated voluntary code recommends social workers be recruited only from countries where there is a plentiful supply.

Zimbabwe does need social workers more than the UK but there are other issues to consider. The Zimbabwe government is not able to employ all social workers for budgetary reasons. For some social workers, working abroad is an important aspect of their development.

Zimbabwean social workers are among the best trained in the developing world and this is evidenced by the professional conduct of the more than 1,000 already working in the UK, Ireland and Canada.

The economic, political and social environment in Zimbabwe has improved. There are scores of unemployed social workers in Zimbabwe who are ready to come over and fill in the staff shortages in child care teams throughout the UK.

Crisford Chogugudza, Independent social worker

Ministers’ hypocrisy on welfare reform

Please pass on my praise to Gary Vaux for his recent opinion piece (“Expense scandal reveals crass hypocrisy of DWP ministers”, www.communitycare.co.uk/expense-scandal).

At least we can take some comfort that the odious James Purnell’s career looks over and hopefully he will soon be joining the ranks of the unemployed after the next general election.

His legacy, however, remains intact with the new welfare reform bill. The unemployed, young people and the elderly I work with have been betrayed by the gangsters in Westminster. Keep up the good work some people are still listening.

David Hambly, Social worker

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