Letters 21 May 2009

Readers’ letters from Community Care magazine, 21 May: Serious case review lessons, positive reporting of social work, therapeutic communities, Jack Jones

Lessons from serious case reviews

The absence of the inclusion of legal professionals and Cafcass staff in serious case reviews involving children who have been killed or suffered serious injury and have been subject to a court process is a serious anomaly in the safeguarding process that should be rectified (“Sealed off from scrutiny”, 30 April). It is hoped that the recent moves towards opening the family courts to media reporting may contribute to the need for independent scrutiny.

Serious case reviews help us learn lessons. In the SCR process assessments that have informed decisions are considered again with the benefit of hindsight and valuable lessons can be drawn from this. Cafcass staff have a high degree of influence on the decision making/judgement outcomes in the family courts. That Cafcass assessments are of poor quality has been highlighted by Ofsted in several regions. This must place children at risk. Cafcass staff are not able to learn lessons and improve their service to children if they do not take part in serious case reviews.

I also disagree with Anthony Douglas’s assertion that recommendations from SCRs are not followed up. I chair a local safeguarding children board serious case review panel and the plans made following recommendations are regularly reviewed and steps are taken to ensure recommended actions are implemented.

Douglas’s comment that “quality is down to professionals own desire to do a good job” applies to all those involved in the safeguarding of children, and does not make sense by way of a reason not to share learning and improve when services fail children.

Kate Lovell, KCL Consultants, independent social work consultancy

Practise what you preach

The emphasis of your online report on the Care Quality Commission report into NHS trusts in relation to the Baby P case is solely on the trusts that failed in relation to the case. The fact that the Whittington Hospital Trust comes out of the report well is not mentioned.

It looks as though the lessons of your research showing that only 8% of newspaper articles (news, p4, 14 May) are positive about social work could be learned very close to home.

Simon Palmour, Palmour Consulting

Jack Jones: a hero for older people

With my supporter of 30 years, Tony Benn, I was privileged to be invited to attend the funeral of Jack Jones on 1 May, the former general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and latterly pensioners’ champion. Sadly, he died in a care home on 21 April. He had been supporting and encouraging me in my campaign since 2002 for the introduction of urgently needed legislation to protect all disabled frail and vulnerable elderly people in UK care homes from bad practice and life-threatening evictions.

Tony Benn was one of a number of distinguished speakers who all gave fitting eulogies to this great, caring, selfless, incorruptible and inspirational man of the people. I shall miss him and his support and through the much appreciated courtesy of your respected columns I would like to extend my humble heartfelt condolences to his sons Jack and Mick and their families.

Ken Mack, Independent national voluntary campaigner for people with disabilities and a carer

Mulberry Bush School is flourishing

Although I am very pleasedthere is a resurgence in interest in the importance of therapeutic communities, (“A sense of community” 30 April) I wanted to clarify a potential misconception regarding the Mulberry Bush School.

Your article states: “In the past 20 years this shift towards (financial) parsimony has increased the chance that Mulberry Bush will not fill its places and have to shut”.

Like all providers we have experienced periods of slow referral activity over the years, but the opposite is now true. Due to our ability to maintain our therapeutic community model, our practice supports stability of placement, excellent educational outcomes and structured relationship and attachment based care. Ofstedrated our care”outstanding”in March this year.

Our current experience is that our not-for-profit charitable status and 61-year reputation currently makes the school the benchmark for local authorities looking for cost effective early interventions with excellent outcomes for severely emotionally troubled children aged 5-12.

John Diamond, Chief executive officer, The Mulberry Bush Organisation

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