Editorial Comment: It’s time to look forward

page 4 13 December issueA quick scan of Community Care’s opinion columns in 2007 reveals a recurrent theme – funding. The f-word has coloured just about everything else we have covered.

Sorry if they sounded samey but there’s no escaping the anger created by a Scrooge-like pay deal and funding settlement for local government. We’ve had to watch as demand has risen, eligibility criteria tightened, social work practice gets compromised and preventive services disappear.

While resources will continue to be tight over the next three years, we must remember that important steps have been taken this year to improve services.

On the adults’ side, the roll out of self-directed care is gathering real momentum and will be boosted by this week’s Putting People First concordat.

Key groups will also benefit from new – or refreshed – strategies, including carers, people with learning disabilities and dementia sufferers. But, the most tantalising treat has to be next year’s green paper on the long-term funding of care, with its once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remodel social care. On the other side, children who are either in care or disabled are set to receive better and more imaginative support. Unfortunately, progress on child poverty has stalled and the real needs of asylum-seeking children ignored.

Social work is also changing. Public support for the role is strong but social workers are unsure about what that role is. The job seems more about paperwork than face-to-face support and advocacy. So, getting a powerful vision for social work amid all this change is top of my Christmas list – and, for once, I’ll resist using the f-word.

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Mike Broad


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