Letters to Community Care 7 May 2009

Readers views on home care problems, taking on a student, “unfair’ reporting of Barnet
Community Care Letters 7 May

The problems with home care highlighted by the BBC’s recent Panorama programme do not only revolve around poor management, poorly trained staff and tight schedules (news analysis, 23 April). They concern a profession that is not recognised as such, a service that is grossly underfunded and one that is still, in the main, commissioned on a time-to-task basis.

Most home care staff are committed, enthusiastic and dedicated. They provide quality care despite being undervalued outside of the sector and being afforded low status within it.

When will policymakers wake up to the fact that the personalisation agenda and services that are truly outcome-focused will never become a reality until they can ensure that local authorities change the way in which they commission services? Why have the issues raised in the damning Commission for Social Care Inspection report, Time to Care never been addressed? Fifteen-minute timeslots are still common practice and minute-by-minute billing a requirement by some authorities.

If we are to transform social care and make personalisation a reality lets start with the transformation of the social care workforce. The backbone of all community care services are the care staff themselves. Let’s start by raising their status, acknowledge the vital role they have in supporting vulnerable people in their own home and pay them accordingly. A salary instead of an hourly rate could be a good starting point.

Mary Bryce, Chair, Ceretas (formerly British Association of Domiciliary Care)

So much to gain by taking a student

I would like to appeal to all team managers to consider taking a student (news, p4, 9 April)

You will need a qualified social worker in your team willing to take responsibility for day-to-day supervision. An independent practice teacher and assessor willdo fortnightly supervision, observationand the final report.In return you will get an extra person in your team who will be hard-working, reliable, willing to learn andgrateful for the opportunity.

Brenda Colenso, Independent practice teacher and assessor

‘Barnet adults’ care report was unfair’

I was extremely disappointed to see the biased reporting of Barnet’s situation “Fears over bid to force extra tasks on Barnet adults’ staff,” (news, p7, 23 April).

Managers and the tradeunion have been working positively to implement major change successfully – the opposite of the spirit conveyed in the story. The union has written to me saying it “is disappointing that this news item failed to report the positive engagement over the restructure. The article is totally misleading in giving the impression that Unison is in dispute with officers. The union official referred to has in fact spoken at Unison national social care seminars on consultation using adult social services in Barnet as an example of good practice”.

The personalisation and transformation agenda is vitaland is also the national policy direction. How can we expect the public to understand the benefits of giving more choice and independence for users if the leading trade journal runs with sensationalist stories rather than working to help its readers – many of whom are working to implement these changes – to interpret that agenda and understand its benefits?

Community Care needs to understand that for more power to be given to individuals there will be changes in the way staff work. They also should be taking more notice of the link to the wider agenda. Councils are having to make major changes to plan for an expected squeeze on public services and real-term expenditure cuts and if staff do not embrace this and work together to achieve it, it is our service users who will suffer.

Irene Findlay, Director of adult social services,London Borough of Barnet

Editor’s reply

We are sorry that Barnet council felt misrepresented. Personalisation is key to the future of adult care and we strive to provide balanced coverage reflecting the importance of choice and control, as well as social workers’ concerns and the solutions found to help personalisation succeed. Many articles on policy, implementation and the evidence-base are at www.communitycare.co.uk/personalisation.

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