@Suey2y and a System that Doesn’t Care

Can there be any more ringing denunciation of the system for assessing DLA than Sue Marsh’s blog post yesterday?

I have severe crohn’s disease. Probably one of the most severe cases in the country.

I have had 7 major life saving operations to remove over 30 obstructions (blockages) from my bowel.

I take chemo-shots every two weeks that suppress my immune system, ensuring that I regularly have to fight infections. Exhaustion, pain and nausea plague every single day of my life.

I have osteoprosis and malnutrition.

I have had major seizures and a stroke.

Nonetheless, I have just heard from my own Disability Living Allowance application, that it has been rejected. Completely. I will receive no support at all from DLA. Despite claiming successfully in the past, despite only getting weaker and more frail and less able to live independently, my reconsideration was rejected.

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Body Count of the Not So Big Society

Here’s a chilling bit of news. For years we’ve been congratulating ourselves on a steady reduction in suicide rates. Not any more.

In 2008, 5,706 people killed themselves in the UK, an average of almost 16 deliberate deaths a day. After close to a decade of annual declines, recession triggered a sharp spike in suicide. Recent figures published in The Lancet show that the UK suicide rate increased 8% between 2007 and 2009. The latest Office for National Statistics figures suggest a similar rise.

The problem is predominantly a male one, with three times as many men killing themselves as women. It is also a trend not confined to the UK. Suicide rates have spiked across Europe since 2008, with Greece, in particular, experiencing staggering increases. 2010 saw a 25% rise in suicide, according to the Greek parliament. In October, the country’s health minister warned that early signs suggest a further 40% jump in 2011.

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Troubleshooting Families

Millionaire Cameron is riding in on his moral high horse to save ‘troubled’ families. So the government agenda of blame and simplistic thinking continues. Yesterday, Cameron announced his programme of rolling out ‘troubleshooters’ to help ‘problem’ families.

I don’t know where to start in picking apart this policy initiative which, on a shallow level, seems to be fine (apart from the language which is shocking and couched in prejudice and blame that this government is becoming quite skilled at). Coordinating approaches across different agencies is all well and good, it is when you look at the details, the costs the figures and the language that this proposal shows Cameron up for the sham that we know  he is and his PR background comes to the fore as he believes the public stupid enough to believe his agenda.

Ironic that his proposal to ‘troubleshoot’ comes on the day that Community Care reports that the government is reneging on Munro’s recommendations to support Early Intervention as a statutory duty of Local Authorities.

But let me take it back to Cameron’s ‘Troubleshooting’ plan to look at.
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The Truth About Adoption Is That There Are Many Truths

Last night’s Panorama documentary ‘The Truth About Adoption’ was a vivid, honest portrayal of the heartbreak and joy of fostering and adoption. As the adults, the social workers, carers, adopters, parents, the court, went about their business, it was impossible not to be profoundly moved as the stories of the children unfolded and their hopes and fears revealed.

Despite the setbacks they have faced in their short lives, all were remarkably optimistic about the future. Undeterred by delays and adoption breakdowns, they hoped for the love, care and security that we professionals call permanence. And why not: it’s the least our society should be able to offer.
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Health Professionals: How Not to Use Social Networks

Increasingly there’s guidance being issued by the various regulators – General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council etc – on how health and social care professionals should behave on social networking sites. I’m a firm believer that professionals can and should use blogs, Twitter etc in order to facilitate dialogue between the people who work in and use services. I think so long as you follow a certain amount of common sense, it can be done in an ethical and responsible way.

This evening I’ve been watching various paramedics risking their registration by talking on Twitter in a way that could get them fired and hauled up before the Health Professions Council. Here’s a prime example of how not to do social networking.
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Book Review: Prosperity Without Growth by Tim Jackson

This book was part of the reading list that I’ve put together as part of my attempt to define the Not So Big Society.

Jackson attempts to reconcile a key area of disagreement between economists and environmentalists. Economists tend to view prosperity as inextricably linked to economic growth. Ecologists and environmentalists insist that simply isn’t sustainable – the planetary resources are finite, oil production will eventually peak, and potentially catastrophic climate change is waiting in the wings. Sooner or later economic growth will hit the buffers. I was curious to see if this book would have anything to say about how we’re going to look after the most vulnerable members of society in the trials to come.
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Social Work’s professional space in Scotland

I have to admit that the idea for this blog entry has been around for some time. For various reasons I have avoided writing it but after a brief Twitter discussion on Sunday I though it best to put some thoughts down.

The idea of professional space has interested me for some time. Andrew Cooper’s paper, The State of Mind We Are In was the first that I read that made me think about the idea. This blog entry will in no way offer what Cooper’s paper offered but will give some insight into my thinking abut this issue.

So what am I defining “professional space” as? Well for me it is a mixture of the professional identities, the social policies that are around and the prevailing economic or social conditions that people are exposed to. For the purposes of this entry I will use my own experiences of working in Social Work in Scotland for the last twenty years.
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CareAdvisor

Yesterday, it was announced that the government was going to set up a website, the details of which would be unveiled  in the Spring White Paper on Adult Social Care which could bring a kind of ‘Trip Advisor’ model of rating and commenting to providers of care homes and nursing homes.

Sounds good so far. I certainly welcome more open and accessible information for those who are choosing care homes but there are some real and obvious differences that need to be highlighted between the choices that are available to those who are picking hotels in New York City and those who are choosing care homes for Granny in Wallsend.

On a positive note, Burstow claims that these plans came from user-led discussion groups which shows that he is listening but there are some important points that have to be taken into consideration, lest this is seen as a way of trying to provide regulation on-the-cheap because the actual regulatory body – the CQC – is unable to carry out its function.
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Pondering the Not So Big Society – A Reading List

As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve been musing the snarky title I gave this blog, and trying to flesh it out into an actual idea.

Something that I suspect will be of key relevance is the idea of the ‘Triple Crunch’ – the suggestion that industrial civilisation will face a threefold challenge of financial chaos, peak oil and climate change in the coming years and decades. I’m trying to avoid some of the usual cliches when talking about this subject matter, so I’ll merely state that “Perfect Storm” is a rather good movie starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.

The question is how to look after each other – and particularly the most vulnerable people in society – during the ongoing chaos. At present the Not So Big Society is a snappy title in search of a theory, but then the same is equally true of Cameron’s Big Society and Miliband’s Good Society.

If the theory is to be fleshed out, I think it’s time to do some reading (and in some cases viewing and listening). Here’s my reading list for what I hope will turn into an ongoing series of posts.
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Eat the Poor

In yesterday’s post I wondered whether the coming austerities will make us a more selfish or selfless society. I’ve just noticed an article on the Huffington Post (with a coincidentally similar title to the one I used) that draws a depressing conclusion.

Social Attitudes Survey shows Big Society is Getting Smaller

This week’s British Social Attitudes Survey is a blow for the left. 54% of respondents think employment benefits are too high, 63% blame parents for child poverty and fewer people are willing to give up their own hard-earned cash to reduce the income gap. People appear to be becoming more individualistic. As Penny Young, the Chief Executive of the National Centre for Social Research, says, ‘In a time of economic austerity and social unrest, the big question coming out of this year’s report is whether we really are in it together, or just in it for ourselves?’

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