Letters to Community Care, 15 April 2010

letter of the week ➔Melanie Henwood, independent consultant, and Prof Bob Hudson Simon Stevens is right that the independent living fund has played...

ILF should be scrapped

Simon Stevens is right that the independent living fund has played an important role in supporting disabled people (Service User Voice, 1 April, https://www.communitycare.co.uk/scrap-ilf).

As we indicated in our independent 2007 review, the ILF was the first “cash for care” scheme in the UK and a pioneer of the key features of direct payments and personal budgets. Since it was established in 1988 much has changed. Although many people value the support they receive through the ILF, it is important to distinguish between the benefit of having a cash sum and that money provided through the organisation that is the ILF.

We identified multiple anomalies with the ILF and the need for major changes to rules and procedures if the organisation was to be fit for purpose in a modern welfare system. Some of the more cosmetic changes we recommended have been acted upon.

However, considered against the requirements of equity, flexibility and accountability, the ILF is woefully inadequate. In 2007 ministers failed to show courage in enacting the 68 wide-ranging recommendations of our review and argued that there should be further consideration of the issues after the evaluation of the individual budget pilots. That milestone came and went with no real change.

Meanwhile, the ILF continues to exist as an anachronistic organisation ill-suited to a world of self-directed support and user empowerment. It exercises enormous powers of discretion leading to uncertainty and inconsistency for service users and their advocates. As the IB evaluation found, it also restricts the ways in which ILF money can be spent.

We agree with Simon: it is indeed time that the ILF was scrapped; its resources should be integrated with personal budgets, through a process that protects existing allocations, ensures future money is ring-fenced from local authority coffers and retains the principle of portability.

Melanie Henwood, independent consultant, and Prof Bob Hudson

Online training can entice busy staff

Enticing practitioners away from their busy caseloads for training has always been a difficult endeavour, let alone keeping users engaged once they have taken the plunge (News, 4 March, https://www.communitycare.co.uk/113937).

Engagement is one of the most pressing issues facing the training market and figures suggesting few social workers enrol for post-qualifying training hardly instil confidence.

However, training staff needn’t impact heavily on working hours. The most effective solution to increase engagement is to blend the training.

A mixture of online training and classroom-based teaching yields the most gains. Online training, in certain cases, out­performs the efficiency of classroom training.

Management undeniably ­recognises the need for training but it needs to emphasise its importance in personal ­development as well as ensure users are kept up to date with the latest government guidelines.

Until this happens or training is made mandatory, the situation will, worryingly, stay the same.

Nick Richards, Director, Me Learning

Likelihood of abused turning abuser

Phil Frampton may know much about the care system but he seems to know very little the psychology of abuse (Letters, 18 March, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/114066).

He contests the view that abused people are more likely to become abusers themselves. He says this is “totally without foundation”, is a “myth” and lacks statistical evidence.

Alas, he is wrong. All people who have been abused self-evidently do not become abusers. However, anecdotal and statistical evidence shows that there is a greater likelihood of that happening. Take any high profile case of sexual and physical abuse – of children or adults – and he will find this borne out.

Thomas Headland, Birmingham

We need action on care home evictions

I wrote to the three main party leaders to ask whether they would include in their general election manifestos legislation to protect the 500,000 disabled, frail and vulnerable elderly people who live in UK care homes from evictions.

I reminded them that tens of thousands of vulnerable elderly people have been evicted from care homes against their wishes and that many of these people have been reported as dying within days. Some had attempted suicide due to the trauma and upheaval of their evictions.

Although pleased to receive replies to my letters I am saddened that not one of them gave mention to or supported my request for the introduction of protective legislation.

Is it asking too much that vulnerable elderly people who need to go into care homes can receive “continuity of quality and dignified care” in the twilight of their lives?

Ken Mack, carer and independent campaigner

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