9 thoughts on “Root and Branch

  1. I appreciate that we should do all that we can to stop re-occurrences of case like that of Baby P and Victoria Climbie, but it will be almost impossible to guarantee that such cases do not occur again no matter what changes the government bring in.

    As we have an ageing population, and a huge number of people with mental health problems, these are areas that should have just as much, if not more, attention paid to them so that we are ready to deal with the increasing need for social workers in these areas.

    There are so many people who live on their own these days that it would need an extremely blinkered person not to realise that these are the people who are going to need assistance in the not too distance future. But the problem is that it is so easy for politicians and the media to whip up a frenzy of concern and emotions when things relate to children, but the elderly and those with mental health issues seem to be invisible to the majority of the rest of the population. This is unfair and reprehensible because these are the very people who have paid for the services over many years and should be entitled to some help in their time of need.

  2. I dont think this ‘root and branch’ review is about Baby P (in fact I suggest it should be seen as offensive that he is being used to further a political cause. no respect offered to him, may he RIP), nor is it about getting us better status. I think this is political tugging between the department of health and department for children/families about who manages the social work, workforce. dept for children want the childrens workforce – full stop and they will stop at nothing to get it, this includes the destruction of the adult social work workforce who will end up with no recognition, no status, no profession, no cpd, no salary recognition. we should all be very concerned.

    I also disagree that the GSCC has made a hash of things. they have consistently argued for a generic degree rather than specialism.

    I dont know why you think the PQ framework is poor. Personally I think it makes a lot of sense and is much more coherent than the old PQs.

    I also want to applaud Madsadgirl – thank you for saying that cases such as Climbie and baby P cannot be prevented. Until we deal with society as a whole, and our attitude to children/power/abuse/violence we can never prevent harm of the vulnerable

  3. Madsadgirl – I can’t say I disagree!

    Fran – thanks for that. I expect that the move towards changes in social work were happening far longer than any headlines but the announcement of the review in the News of the World by Mr Balls didn’t really make me particularly sympathetic to his statements.
    I am concerned about marginalisation of adult services and that is a part of my difficulty with the new PQ system. Splitting Adult from Mental Health services doesn’t seem to be particularly helpful. It might just be that my local universities seem to have made such a hash of organising decent PQ courses that I have had a poor experience. And by no means do I think the previous system is any better.
    It just seems like a shambles – again that might be due to poor local implementation – that wouldn’t surprise me.

  4. I find it interesting that social workers have similar problems to many occupational therapists in terms of describing the complexity of what we actually do. It’s simply because our work is so complex that people under-estimate the skill needed to carry out what some people would think is ‘common sense’. I can’t remember which famous writer said that ‘common sense is uncommon’! but it’s true.

    In terms of the child harm concern: When the base rate of an event is so rare, and the factors so many, being able to completely eliminate the possibility that a child may be harmed is impossible. That doesn’t mean efforts shouldn’t be made, but to promise that ‘no child will ever be harmed’ is simply setting a situation up for failure. At the same time as demanding better services for vulnerable children, we have the much more well-hidden problem of elder abuse. This area is so much less publicised than child abuse, so much less sexy – no cute kids to coo over, instead frail elderly with no teeth and wrinkled skin. The situations our elderly find themselves in, with little or no voice and scant services, really needs urgent attention in New Zealand, and from the sounds of it, in the UK too.

    It’s not just educating social workers – or other health professionals – it’s about educating and informing the general public about the challenges and needs faced in care for the elderly (and any other marginalised group in society). More than that, it’s helping the general public recognise the complex skills that are needed to work in this area. It’s not simply ‘common sense’ – it’s professionalism combined with knowledge and compassion.

  5. I think Social Work & Social Workers will always suffer bad press from the uninformed.The media & the Government have a ‘pitchfork mentality’ which feeds on & stokes up the anger & fears of Joe Public when a case like that of Baby P comes to light.I wonder what the reaction would be if the case involved an elderly or mentally ill person.

  6. Pingback: Mental Nurse · This Week in Mentalists (59)

  7. I think what is so frustrating is how little can be done sometimes, because there aren’t the facilities and budget to cope with it. I’ve just finished putting together a jigsaw puzzle on our health boards future plans for the elderly and the mentally ill and it amounts to swingeing cuts. What can you do for someone when there is nowhere for them to go and no help? The statistic that horrifies me is that a third of dementia sufferers live alone. I look after someone with dementia and I can’t even begin to imagine what that would entail in terms of the personal danger the person was in, and the physical state that they would be in. But as you say, it’s just not a priority.

  8. Thanks for all the comments. I am sure that a similar case involving an adult would not garner the same interest but we shouldn’t need to be battling for public sympathy in the face of tragedy as a way to draw attention to the needs of the services. Nor should it need to be a battle at all. It can be frustrating at times though but everything seems to be about battles for funds.

  9. There are similar cases in Adult care, for example, the recent High Court case of X & Y v Hounslow where the Council negligently allowed people with learning disabilities to be routinely abused and assaulted by other local residents.

    It is just these cases do not often come out.

    I am dealing with a number of clients with LD and/or mental health issues who are routinely sexually and physically assaulted but about which nothing is done except that the women routinely have their children taken away because they cannot ‘protect’ them but no-one protects the women in the first place.

    So for them it is a double whammy being assaulted and then being victimised for being assaulted by losing their kids!!!

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