Readers’ letters to Community Care 11 June 2009

Social workers should speak out against the press

If we really want to understand what the press is all about in this society, then with my apologies to the German pacifist and concetration camp survivor Martin Niemöller:

“When the newspapers came for the social workers,

I remained silent;

I was not a social worker.

Then they locked up the bankers,

I remained silent;

I was not a banker.

Then they came for the immigrants,

I did not protest;

I was not an immigrant.

Then they came for the politicians

I did not speak out;

I was not a politician.

When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Perhaps when social workers, bankers and politicians want to castigate each other and immigrants, and use the national media to do so, they should pause and consider this a little first!

Paul Nowak, team co-ordinator, Louth Recovery CMHT

Take heed of sensory impairment

Practitioners need to be aware of the importance of recognising sensory impairments when screening and monitoring older people’s nutrition (“Nutritional care and older people”, 14 May). Taking practical steps and providing support where necessary should help to improve nutrition for older people with sensory impairments, including the one in 20 people over 75 who are deafblind.

For example, maintaining good communication at mealtimes to prevent confusion and distress and serving attractive food on a contrasting plate and place mat in a well-lit environment.

Simon Shaw, policy officer (Older People), Sense

Co-op points the way to ethical future

I was delighted to read about the social work co-op at Gateshead.(“Social work co-op launched to tackle staff shortages”, news, 28 May).

The whole co-op movement is booming. The Co-op Bank, based on ethical principles, has drawn many customers from the disgraced high street banks. Every day I shop in the Co-op. It serves members not shareholders. It has expanded into pharmacies, insurance and travel. When I die the Co-op will bury me and my wife will get the divi.

Not least the Co-op Party has revived and is planning co-op railways, leisure centres and football clubs. I now attend its meetings not the moribund ones of the Labour Party.

May social work develop on co-operative principles.

Bob Holman, Glasgow

Do we really need sex conduct guidance?

I am very surprised that social workers require the General Social Care Council to create a policy on professional boundaries and sexual misconduct (news, p6, 4 June).

I am even more surprised that 14% of practitioners can think that sexual relationships with a service user are sometimes acceptable, or that 16% were unsure as to whether the practice was even an issue.

I would be most surprised to discover an employing agency or organisation that does not already have a policy regarding professional boundaries and what represents exploitative or unacceptable behaviours from its staff. Practitioners are obliged to be aware of such policies and what the procedure ought to be as also what penalties will be applied for failure to carry out the correct procedure.

Further, do social work courses now no longer teach ethics and values? How can it ever be right for a social worker to have a sexual or personal relationship with a service user? The inequalities of power between the social worker and the service user are just so obvious as to not require further explanation.

Finally, does this issue not also point to one reason why, perhaps, it is a little unwise to accept an average 18-year-old onto a social work course?

Clive Baulch, practice assessor


In “A blow for social care”, (28 May), we stated that Simon Bellwood was suspended from his job as a social worker at a Jersey secure unit after whistleblowing. In fact he was placed on gardening leave while his complaints were investigated.

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