The Guardian are publishing a supplement on both recent and proposed changes within the social care sector to coincide with the opening of the National Children’s and Adult Services Conference in Liverpool.
Not having seen a printed copy of the paper yet today, I’m not sure if the website offers all that is there.
But a few thoughts on some of the articles.
There is an article about the rejoining of adult and children services directorates in some areas of the country after a recent pushing of the splitting apart of the service provision. Children’s Services tending to link up with Education Services.
My favourite quotation from the article is
Andrew Ireland, at Havering in east London, said: “There is no excuse for people not talking to each other if they’re all part of the same directorate.”
This made me chuckle because our own Adult Services Directorate joined with the Housing Directorate, under a Director whose experience lies wholly in Housing Services. No excuse for people not to talk to each other, Mr Ireland? Oh, you should see how well Housing and Adult Services are bedding down together in my own council..
There is also an article looking back at the development of the independent living agenda through the experiences of John Evans, who was at the forefront of the process.
Evans makes a strong case although with some reservations
Evans is concerned that the personalisation drive has come at a downpoint in the economic cycle and, now, amid a spectacular banking crash. “The philosophy of the government is wonderful,” he says, “But with local authorities going to be so tightly restricted financially, unless more money does come somehow, it’s just not clear how it’s all going to go forward.”
Credit crunching is all-pervasive, it seems. Although to be honest, I suspect there was never really any ‘extra’ money available to fund the personalisation agenda and it was always intended to be a cost-neutral, if not cost-cutting programme.
Meanwhile, the role of informal carers is considered and the lack of recognition formally regarding the level of care that is being provided without any recompense.
As things stand, there is a paradox at the heart of our apparently “carer-blind” system: the more care you provide as a family, the less support you are likely to receive. And this appears to give the Treasury a win that’s best left well alone. Why provide expensive replacement care when a family could be doing it for free?
…By thinking about individuals, rather than whole families, we squander the country’s largest full-time care workforce.
So a system of direct payment for families to account for the work that is being provided informally? It’s an idea. The article goes on to elaborate on how it might look
But should we be thinking about going still further? With the social care budget deficit standing officially at £6bn, and rising, will we need to accept changes that move us towards the systems in France and Germany, where families are placed under legal obligations to care for, or pay for the care of, their elderly parents?
Well, it would be one way of providing services at a cost. Families are different though and one persons’ joy is another persons’ burden. While I think the system of carers allowance is nothing more than an embarrassment, our culture is not one that has encouraged mandatory support of elder relatives – in the same way that families are expected to care for dependent children, mandating that families care for dependent older adults might create a chasm of expectations.
It’s an interesting thought though. Isn’t it?
There are a few more articles over at the Guardian that provide some interesting perspectives. I may explore further after I actually leave the house and get a print version!