Letters to Community Care, 11 February 2010

We need to tap into unused foster carers

There are many thousands of unsuccessful enquiries made to the 800 UK fostering providers annually.

We at Simply Fostering estimate that 60% of people who express an interest in fostering, are not taken to the next stage because they do not meet the requirements of the provider they have contacted. On occasions independent fostering agencies will refer some of these enquirers to their local authority, however, this is not reciprocal. The vast majority of unsuccessful enquirers are lost, probably forever. A fostering provider may not proceed with an enquiry because the applicant does not live in an area the agency covers, has younger children of their own or are only interested in looking after a specific age group.

Fostering Network estimates a shortage of at least 8,200 foster families nationwide. Every potential fostering enquiry is precious. If as a society we are to utilise the resources available to us effectively and provide the choice and diversity of placements needed for children in the care system, all fostering providers should be enthusiastic about sharing their unwanted fostering enquiries with other agencies.

Annette Webb, http://www.simplyfostering.co.uk

Mental health cuts and the rise in suicide

The rise in national suicide rates by 6% over the period 2007-8 has been erroneously ascribed to the recession and alcohol consumption. As a carer in mental health for more than 30 years I have witnessed the erosion of mental health services with growing alarm. The closure of wards, units and especially day hospitlas was bound to increase the suicide level. Many intent on suicide by overdosing use a lethal cocktail of prescribed drugs, pain killers and alcohol but the means and the cause should not be confused.

Barry Tebb, Sixties Press

Barry Tebb’s blog

YoungMinds’ helpline for the parents of depressed children

A recent Children’s Society report showing that one in four teenagers are unhappy or depressed cites family conflict as the main reason behind teenager’s unhappiness. Young people’s appearance, confidence and school work were also identified as factors. These issues come as no surprise to us at YoungMinds. Our Parents Helpline service receives hundreds of calls each week from worried parents seeking advice about their child following a change in their behaviour. We are currently campaigning to raise awareness of the Parents Helpline so that parents know where to turn for advice and support should they find themselves in this situation.

The helpline is run by five trained advisers who provide callers with information and advice and signpost them to local services in their area while callers with complex needs are offered a 50-minute consultation with a mental health practitioner to deal with their concerns. Parents can call the free helpline on 0808 802 5544 from 9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday.

Lucie Russell, director of campaigns, YoungMinds

Homecare staff and the ‘big freeze’

Staff pulled out the stops for our service users during the recent “big freeze” (news, 14 January) Glasgow Old People’s Welfare Association’s day centres (five of them) delivered hot meals and shopping to their service users. This went on for three days, the next two days they spent clearing paths and pavements to bring in their clients.

Well done to the wonderful staff of Gopwa.

Sheena Glass, Glasgow Old People’s Welfare Association

Dementia training is the key to better services

The opposition day debate on dementia, led by Stephen O’Brien MP, discussed many of the problems which are prevalent in the care and services provided to dementia suffers.

While I welcome the debate around this important issue, we need to ensure that the debate continues to look at issues beyond the problem of funding. With an estimated one million new social care workers required by 2025, it is essential that the recruitment and training of the workforce is looked at closely, or any attempts at reforming this Cinderella service will be doomed from the start.

Professor David Croisdale-Appleby, iindependent chair, Skills for Care

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