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Social care 2011: Who had a good year, who had a bad year?

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by Mithran Samuel and Simeon Brody

 

Good year

 

Kaliya Franklin

 

Franklin has emerged as one of the foremost service user bloggers and campaigners against cuts to disability benefits and care. Blogging at Benefit Scrounging Scum and The Broken of Britain and very active on Twitter, she has relentlessly shone a light on the impact of the government’s cuts on disabled people’s lives. Highlights included One Month Before Heartbreak, a three-day campaign to raise awareness of cuts to disability living allowance online, and a public encounter with Ed Miliband at the Labour Party conference, in which she asked the party leader why it was failing to oppose cuts to disability benefits. Miliband’s failure to get her name right – he called her Harriet several times – made it an instant You Tube hit but Franklin also successfully exposed Labour’s reluctance to stand up for disabled people lest it be accused of being soft on the allegedly workshy.

 

Irwin Mitchell

 

The law firm took up several cases on behalf of disabled and older people affected by cuts to adult social care, and managed to reverse Birmingham and Isle of Wight councils’ decisions to increase thresholds for care on judicial review.

 

Eileen Munro

 

Eileen Munro’s review of child protection, published in 2010, received strong backing from the government this year, which pledged to introduce most of its recommendations.

 

And Munro’s recommendations are receiving strong interest from social workers themselves – our guide to the Munro report was our most popular story of the year.

  

Bad year

 

The Care Quality Commission

 

2011 was an annus horribilis for the Care Quality Commission. It was slammed for failing to intervene to stop abuse at Winterbourne View hospital for people with learning disabilities after it did not respond to three reports from whistleblower Terry Bryan. It was criticised by MPs for having “distorted priorities” after cutting inspection levels for adult social care by 70% to switch resources into its programme of re-registering all providers last year. And the year ended with one of its own board members, Kay Sheldon, calling for a change of leadership at the regulator, including the departure of Cynthia Bower, the chief executive. There could be worse to come in 2012, with the Department of Health due to report on reviews of the CQC’s capability and into Sheldon’s criticisms of its leadership.

 

NHS acute hospitals

 

A string of reports in 2011 slammed the quality of care for older people, particularly those with dementia, on acute hospital wards.

Eric Pickles

 

The communities secretary did not make himself popular with the social care sector when in March he announced that the government was examining all council social care duties as part of a wide ranging review. Sector leaders told him unequivocally that the idea was a very bad one and in June the idea was shelved. The government said it had never meant to get rid of the duties in the first place.

 

To make matters worse, Pickles’ seeming obsession with bins over other council duties, such as social care, rankled with some commentators. In January a keynote speech on local government suggested waste collection was his highest priority. And in September he found an extra £250m to spend on more bin collections while social care budgets were being slashed. The announcement was made while the National Children and Adult Services conference was running and the attendant social care Twitterati were not amused:

 

@joefd: “A lot of anger at #ncasc that Pickles’s bin money could have made real change if spent on care and support.”


@ComCareAdults: ”Richard Humphries says the 200m bin collection sum would have meant 1.5m for every council to set up good information and advice.”
 
@IndependentAge: “Recent government £200m cash for bin collections is double what we currentlky spend on home aids and adaptations.”

About Simeon Brody

Community Care managing web editor

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