Letters to Community Care 22 April 2010

Phil Frampton, former chair, Care Leavers Association d Balls's replacement of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential...

Ed Balls’s replacement of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC) by the multinational company Tribal Group to secure excellence in children’s homes indicates a further move to turn children in care into commodities for profit (news, 8 April, www.communitycare.co.uk/114202).

Indeed, one of Tribal’s major shareholders is venture capitalist company, Caledonia Investments, which has one of the six director positions on the board. Tribal’s other directors have more links with the finance sector than children’s homes and care.

Their ties include St Modwen’s Properties, which delivers construction to the public sector, and builders Taylor Wimpey.

In 2005 Andrew Rome was managing director of Sedgemoor, one of the UK’s largest providers of residential care for children, which was purchased by venture capital company ECI. Rome lauded in Community Care the benefits of venture capital (Capital Gains, 3 February 2005, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/47959). He predicted that ECI and venture capital in general would be in the children’s sector for the long term. Within two years it appeared his prediction had unravelled. In 2007, ECI put Sedgemoor and its 45 children’s homes into administration, leaving staff desperately phoning around unable to find roofs for at least 40 vulnerable children.

How ironic that after venture capital led to the collapse of one of the UK’s largest children’s homes companies and the financial problems at of residential care companies Southern Cross and Four Seasons that Ed Balls has brought the profiteers in through the back door to develop “excellence” in residential care.

Tribal’s directors will certainly have an eye on developing excellent profits. However, it bodes a serious setback for care, as what carer with integrity will not have in the back of their mind that Tribal’s recommendations may be based on building the groups’ and their associates’ profits rather than successful outcomes for children?

Phil Frampton, former chair, Care Leavers Association


Building a culture of involvement

Your article did not portray the full picture about the user and carer involvement that we have undertaken and aspire to within the Care Quality Commission (Care Quality Commission one year on, 1 April, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/114207).

We have an extensive programme – People’s Voices – to make sure involvement is embedded and influential.

While we are reviewing the Experts by Experience programme, this is because we want to make sure user and carer input has optimal impact and influence in the way we undertake our new regulatory activities.

As a mental health service user as well as a commissioner on the CQC board, I have been much encouraged by the willingness and enthusiasm within the organisation to embrace involvement and the extent to which it is becoming an essential dimension of the way we work.

Equally, I have also seen high quality input from service users, carers and groups which has been informed, pertinent and valuable. It takes time to establish both a culture, and the building blocks, for effective involvement. But we are in no doubt that, to optimise our impact as a regulator, we need to work with service users, carers and others.

Kay Sheldon, Commissioner, Care Quality Commission


What is BASW’s link to the Tories?

BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson is gambling for high stakes with his proposal for an independent college of social work. His gamble is in part loaded upon the return of a Conservative government.

It would be helpful to the current debate on the different college options to know what discussions have taken place between BASW and the Conservative Party regarding BASW’s proposal for an independent college and at what level?

And if there has been contact what understandings have been reached between BASW and the Conservatives in the event of them being elected?

Is shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton’s apparent endorsement of the BASW proposal only to be seen as a coincidence?

Jolyon Jones, Birmingham


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

2016 cannot be “political light years away” as Richard Humphries suggests (The Big Picture, 8 April), as a light year is a measure of distance not time. Interesting piece all the same.

Stephen Barber, Carterton, Oxfordshire

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