Community Care letters 14 May 2009

Community Care readers’ views on care home funding, social work training, supervision, community work and job-share posts

Published in the 14 May edition of Community Care magazine

Short shrift for self funders

Self-funders do not shy away from council services (“A fair deal for self-funders?”, 30 April).

They are often turned away when they look for help. Our report Assessment Denied published last year showed that many councils make very little attempt to assist self-funders when they first ask for an assessment of their care needs. As soon as it becomes apparent they are likely to be self-funders they are given short shrift and, at best, handed a list of care homes or told to consult the council’s website. Making assumptions about someone’s financial standing before assessing their care needs is both unlawful and unfair. Moreover, when we looked at a sample of council websites, we found many of them to be either inaccurate and misleading or un-navigable.

Councils have a duty to all their citizens. There are examples of good practice in parts of the country and laggards should learn from them.

Gillian Dalley, The Relatives & Residents Association

Police lessons for social work training

Now the government has decided to recruit more social workers, I feel that a more radical approach is needed to the content of social work training.

I would suggest that the skills used by the police in their investigations should be incorporated in all child protection training. The skills of evidence-gathering during interviews could be adapted for social workers.

These could be put to use in their interviews with parents where there are child protection concerns that are not straightforward, as most are not.

This would help social workers develop their understanding of how adults try to mislead them, and how to challenge such situations. I know this suggestion will not go down well with many, but sometimes it is necessary to think outside the social work box.

Chris Holland, Principal officer , Child Protection Unit

Supervision must remain key

The piece on supervision (“Whatever happened to supervision?”, 23 April,, could be extended to remind us all that professional supervision should be a key aspect of continuous professional development.

How can a culture of the research-minded practitioner be cultivated without the necessary supportive environment? Managers across health and social care have for far too long been dancing to the state’s top-down authoritarian tune.

Many managers in the back office have lost sight of why they have a job. They are there because resources need to be organised so frontline workers can give service to their clients.

Community Care has often referred to the demoralisation of practitioners. Is this so surprising when so many caring workers lose sight of the goals of their own virtuous practice? It is difficult to hold on to service values when there appears to be little or no support to do so.

John Astley , Open University and Leonard Cheshire Disability

Employers lack job share enthusiasm

I am a qualified social worker with six years’ post-qualifying experience and I am trying to get a foot on the management ladder. Because of my family commitments I would like a job-share position.

Most councils advertise their posts as being open to job-share but this can be misleading. Before applying for positions I have contacted the person named in the advertisement and have often been told that they won’t accept someone who wants to job-share. I have been interviewed for a post but have been passed over in favour of other candidates because they were prepared to work full-time.

It is wrong that large employers are getting away with this level of discrimination.

Name and address withheld

Generations learn from each other

I was delighted to hear that the government has finally begun to recognise the importance of intergenerational activities in rebuilding the fabric of our society and has pledged money to directly support schemes.

At Westminster Children’s Society, we have been developing this approach for some time, believing that both community nurseries and children’s centres have major roles to play in driving community cohesion, by supporting activities where young and old can learn together and from one another.

With any luck, this new funding will help local authorities galvanise existing support and spur further initiatives and partnerships among organisations like our own.

June O’Sullivan, Chief executive officer, Westminster Children’s Society

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