By Debbie le Quesne

Archive for May 2013

Youngsters’ dementia work takes centre stage in Sandwell

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ImageYoungsters at a Sandwell school have been learning about dementia and presented their work as part of a care sector educational promotion at The Public.

The Sandwell Dementia Friendly Event provided a platform for different agencies to work together so that those diagnosed with the memory-loss condition could ultimately have more choices and control over their lives.

As part of the initiative WMCA had been commissioned by Sandwell Council to produce a comprehensive collection of possible stimulating activities aimed to help care home owners in their activities programming and the recording of residents’ responses.

The multi-cultural information proved hugely popular at the WMCA stand, but the highlight of the day for me was a piece of artwork created by pupils from Crocketts Lane Primary School in Swethwick. Their dementia ‘wall’ imagery (pictured) showed how by patiently building memory links it could be broken through. The youngsters also presented a poem about the disease.

I was thrilled at the insight the children had and heartened that dementia and its many implications could be part of the school curriculum.

Clearly, if we are going to make places like Sandwell a better place to live for those with dementia, we need to deal with prejudices and what better way than in the school classroom.

I applaud the teachers of Crocketts Lane Primary. Thank you!

Dementia poem

For most of us in Year 4

We had not heard of dementia before

We started learning what it meant

It’s when you start to forget


To begin with it was hard to see

We were told it’s about your memory

You become muddled and confused

Forgetting the name of things onced used


You may forget how to dress

That made us smile, we confess

Then we began to learn some more

And realised it’s not like a sore


It’s not something you can bandage and cure

It will only get worse, that is for sure

Remembering people, places and things

Fluttering from your mind as if they had wings


Slowly we began to know

How we could help and show

Patience, sharing time and images

Looking at photos building back memories


We didn’t quite understand

How important it could be to hold your hand

Or take some time to read with you

Your favourite story as if it was new


Every minute we can share

Could help to show how much we care

We can always start again

And talk about ‘what happened and when’


Tricky questions on the care capping issue

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There’s a million-dollar question that’s forever being asked about the funding of care regarding just how the new £72,000 capping level is going to be rolled out by April 2016.

It’s a gigantic job and the logistics are complex.

The principle of introducing a capped cost was outlined in the Care Bill with the aim to provide financial help for people currently facing catastrophic care costs.

The government’s intention is to assess all the self-funders already receiving care who ask to have their costs applied towards the cap.

An assessment framework is within the Bill and all eligible people will have a personal care account which will monitor their progress towards the cap.

The Guardian online, with the help of Laing & Buisson and Nick Kirwan, director of ILC-UK Care Funding Advice Network, poses the burning question of how this will be be implemented before April 2016.

It’s not a lightweight piece, but care providers will be in the vanguard of this change, so it’s well worth the read. Care managers will be the ones quizzed over the details of this self-funding ceiling, believe me.

According to Laing & Buisson, there were 175,000 people in residential care (43.4 per cent) in 2012 who paid the full cost without support from their local authority.

Issues raised in the piece include:

  • How many will apply to have their care costs accrue towards the cap and what will be the demand on local authority resources?
  • Fears that this exercise could have an adverse effect on the care sector.
  • How will the facts and the process be communicated, so that people are clear about whether or not to apply?
  • What about people who lack mental capacity?
  • What of the so-call ‘accommodation cots’ not counting towards care?
  • Self-funders should be assessed immediately before April 2016 so that they don’t miss out on any qualifying costs. Could this create a traffic jam in the system in March 2016?
  • How will the queuing system work?

Just for good measure there’s a bunch of other Pandora’s Box questions too. I’m dreading 2016 unless the government really gets its act together.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/social-care-network/2013/may/28/how-to-implement-care-bill

National Open Day – please get on board

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The UK’s care homes are to stage a national open day – great news, but only if we are prepared to join this groundbreaking initiative.

Already homes from Scotland to Cornwall are making plans for the event on 21 June which aims to encourage communities to visit their local care homes and to connect residents and communities together.

It is hoped that as many care homes as possible will join the and it is open to any care home, regardless of whether it is council run, or independent.

For far too long the care home sector has been marred by the negative Press generated by a small number of badly run homes, and here’s an opportunity to show people what residential care is really about.

And this fantastic opportunity gives a chance to make new friends, turn distant neighbours into part of the community in which we live, show the world what good care is and to do something to give us a voice.

At a meeting of our West Midlands Care Association directors last week I was reminded of Sir Digby Jones’s words ten years ago about the care sector. He said: “We are at five to midnight and still don’t have a voice in the corridors of power.”

Although we are much better at presenting a corporate face, there’s still much to do and this event is just one way we can do it.

Don’t you want the world to know that care homes really can be inspiring places, full of unique, intelligent and charming characters, and run by special people that really do care?

The time is now to build thousands of friendships, to change long-held perceptions, to create thousands of memories, and to have a fantastic day that will enrich lives.

Helping to make it all happen are Anchor, Barchester, BUPA, Care UK, Four Seasons Healthcare, HC-One, Care Forum Wales, English Community Care Association (ECCA), Independent Health Care Providers (Northern Ireland), National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People (NAPA), the National Care Forum (England), and Scottish Care

A spokesman for the group said: “The home is free to put on any activities that they think will attract their local community into their homes and we are looking forward to dispelling some of the myths about residential care and showing local people what excellent services are at the heart of their community.”

Please, please, please get involved and if you’re having an event let us know and we’ll post it on our Facebook page. Send out newsletters, emails, put up posters . . . tell the world and its wife we have something amazing to offer.

I am determined to make some positive noise about our care homes, and I so want all of us to be part of it! Stage an event, big it up and let’s be seen and heard.

Dudley in national spotlight for care approach

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Dudley’s Making it Real approach to changing the face of social care in the borough has won praise from the Department of Health.

It’s pioneering approach to supporting people with dementia will be showcased nationally next month and the Department of Health’s new Director General of Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships, Jon Rouse, will visit the town on June 7 to see the groundbreaking work taking place.

Mr Rouse has publicly praised Dudley’s approach on developing dementia services at a recent national event.

It is expected he will visit a number of care settings across the borough.

The itinerary will take in Roseville Dementia Gateway in Coseley, one of the three borough Dementia Gateways, which all provide care and support for those affected by dementia.

The Making it Real Initiative is supported by the West Midlands Care Association, with myself heading up a Quality Group that is tasked with finding a new way to rate care performance.

Interestingly, one of the most visited blogs and Facebook pieces was about this project, and for those who recall it really is “the second hardest job I have ever had.”

What encourages me most is the fact that the local authority has come into the national spotlight. The top brass don’t get much bigger than Mr Rouse and clearly he has recognised the work being done to roll out this drive for community to have a great input in shaping care.

The dementia gateway approach is part of the way Dudley Council is transforming social care.

More information on Making It Real in Dudley visit www.makingitrealindudley.org

Brave TV show risk for disabled Raymond pays off

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Promoted as an uplifting piece of television, Channel 4’s The Undatables was destined to polarise opinion.

The series followed the journey of a number of disabled people trying to find love.

Was it, as one critic said, “a Victorian circus freak show” or was it “sensitive and kind,” the opinion of another TV writer.

My initial response was apprehensive. But after stumbling on an article about one of the show’s candidate my ‘Jury out’ opinion has changed.

Love it, or hate it, the programme certainly broke a taboo.

More than two and a half million tuned in to watch the progress of these selected people deemed ‘undatable’ due to some form of disability or disfigurement, ranging from brittle bones to Asperger’s.

For one of them, the experience has been life-changing, catapulting him to a kind of stardom.

Raymond Johnson told a national newspaper: “The day after The Undateables was shown, I was on the way to work and came out from the station, a person driving a car hooted and started doing a Leeds salute. Then when I was waiting to get on the bus, someone took their phone out and took my picture.”

He agreed to take part in the show to help challenge viewers’ opinions on the disabled – but did not expect the celebrity status, which followed.

Three months on from the broadcast of the latest series, he is still being recognized. People stop to chat to him or pose for photographs. “I love it,” he said. “I love a bit of the limelight.”

The Updateable followed Raymond, an ardent Leeds United fan, as he tried to find a new girlfriend after his fiance, Lolita, called off their engagement.

Although the programme attracted criticism for the way it was marketed, it proved a hit and the series was praised for its “warm and inclusive” tone.

The positive response from many viewers, he feels, proves it was worth putting himself through the experience.

Raymond hit back at comments by one TV critic who said the participants in the show were vulnerable and should have been protected from exploitation.

“It is wrong to make assumptions about people with learning difficulties,” he said. “I don’t think I’m vulnerable.”

His stand was a risky one, but I suspect he is okay with viewers tittering over some of the issues raised.

I cannot argue about the ethics of this material – the issues are far too complex for a late hour on a Thursday evening, but I’m grateful that these brave ‘celebrities’ spoke openly about their disabilities and love.

If the programme makers wanted entertainment, they succeeded; if they desired to stimulate debate, that too is an on-going success.

History teaches that society has never handled disabilities well. I can only hope the huge audiences the programme drew will help make for a more enlightened future.

Written by debbielq

May 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Small projects leading revolution in social care

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Small enterprises are helping to prepare the way in which local care services are delivered into Dudley’s community.

This week Sarah Goudie’s bread2share project for people living with learning disabilities made national headlines.

Set up 18 months ago, the project based at the Queens Cross Network on Wellington Road, helps clients make bread.

“The people I see are able to work with a creative process and learn how to make bread, and see the end result of their work, and they always find it very satisfying and enjoyable,” Sarah told The Guardian newspaper.

She added: “It can have therapeutic value for people with different conditions, for example, I was teaching an elderly man with dementia last week, and he was absolutely delighted when he made his first two loaves.”

Sarah is one of a number of people who have set up micro-enterprises – small businesses employing up to four people – in Dudley, West Midlands, to deliver more care to elderly people and other vulnerable groups.

All the project are community focused and Dudley Council provides financial and business support as part of its goal to develop more personalised, community-bases social care. The Dudley Innovation Fund awards “kickstart” funding grants of £2,000 and “progression” funds of up to £10,000, The Guardian article said.

I find the initiative heartening and it’s certainly a creative way of saving cash. However, the savings, according to the article, are estimated at only 10 per cent.

Excuse me if I sound a little cynical, but despite its noble ethos, in real terms the returns are small.

But of course the council says focus should be on gaps in provision and flexible delivery, rather than saving money (Matt Bowsher, assistant director of quality and commissioning – The Guardian).

Of course money saving is the big driver.

Is this care on the cheap? The Guarding says the council is supporting about 40 micro-providers.

One question I do have: Are these services regulated by CQC . . ? Unfortunately the article doesn’t shed any light on this matter.

Want to know more? Read the news item posted on our website.

Where the old look after the older . . .

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As the West struggled to find a solution to fund care for its growing ageing population, China is pioneering a new solution – the old looking after the even older.

Two years short of 70, Zhang Guosheng spends his days caring for an 81-year-old fellow villager – washing his clothes, bringing meals to his bed, and keeping him company – a routine he’ll keep up until he himself needs the type of care he is now giving.

Nation news agency Reuters reports that Zhang, an enthusiastic dancer. Would traditionally have been cared for by his children, but an influx of aspiring youth into cities is changing traditions.

“We are very happy here,” says Zhang of the Qiantun village in northern China’s Hebei.

Surrounded by green wheat fields that stretch across a flat plain, Qiantun is unremarkable among countless rural Chinese communities, but its old-age care model is now a prototype cited by his government as a solution to the daunting challenge of caring for a vast and rapidly greying rural population.

One of every four Chinese will be older than 60 by 2030, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The formal eldercare system in rural areas is very weak, and basically a blank spot in many places, the Chinese administration says and costs of caring for China’s rapidly expanding elderly population are likely to be too heavy a burden for the government.

This social tension has birthed the self-help model practiced among the 1,500 residents of Qiantun and it offers a cheaper and streamlined alternative to a state-run system.

The practice of old people taking care of each other posed a simple and attractive solution for the Chinese government.

Labelled “mutual assist eldercare,” the Feixiang model is set to be expanded to the rest of rural China, with 3 billion yuan ($490 million) set aside by the central government to get it started over the coming three years.

With few political, social and economic solutions being tabled in the UK, perhaps the Cabinet would consider a similar model. After all, there is a growing ‘workforce’ (many spritely) and a good number of ‘charges’ for them to care for.

At the Qiantun villager centre, “old” Zhang, as he is known, talks about the future as he brings food  and medicine to the bedside of his charge, bedridden by a broken thigh bone.

“He can’t move around now, I help him,” said a still spry Zhang. “When I can’t move, someone will also care for me.”

His faith in future care seems naïve and simplistically hopeful. If any nation can pull off this prototype of caring, China can.

Anyone fancy a retirement village in rural northern China’s Hebei province?

New champion for care, but what about the children?

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It seems timely that adult social care users and practitioners will have a new champion following the appointment of Lyn Romeo as Chief Social Worker for Adults.

Minister for Care and Support, Norman Lamb, made the appointment last week – about the same time that it emerged that more and more of more of our children are taking care duties.

Interestingly, in a government press statement, it says the new post “will work closely with a Chief Social Worker for Children to be announced shortly.”

Hmm . . . The new Chief Social Worker for Adults will help to improve the quality of care across adult services and act as a champion for those who receive services and the professionals who work in the sector, the press release adds.

These roles will lead social workers in protecting the “safety and welfare of the most vulnerable in society and make sure the views of social workers are heard at the highest levels of Government.”

They will advise Health and Education ministers on how best to improve standards in social work, looking at areas like training and professional development. They will also explore how social workers can best work with leaders of other professions to give the best possible services.

Lyn Romero is currently Assistant Director of Adult Social Care and Joint Commissioning at the London Borough of Camden. She has more than 35 years experience of social work practice.

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said: “I am delighted that Lyn has accepted this new and exciting role

“Her expertise will make her a strong and effective advocate for people who use services, their carers and social work practitioners working with adults.”

Lyn will take up her role in late summer/autumn.

But what will she and Chief Social Worker for Children do to address the news which broke from the Children’s Society last week?

More of our children are caring for us than ever before and the challenges that they face have been shown in sharp relief by the charity.

Post-school they are twice as likely to be not in education or employment. One in 12 are caring for someone more than 15 hours per week. Around one in 20 misses school because of caring. These young people often say they’ve been bullied or have developed their own physical and emotional health problems.

The scale of the issue is huge. The 2011 census shows 178,000 young people under 18 looking after a friend or family member, but this is not the whole picture.

When filling in the census, many parents simply don’t recognise or want to say that their child is caring for them.

BBC research in 2010 put the figure at 700,000 at that time.

At one end there is the five- to seven-year-old age group, where the census shows 10,000 little boys and girls caring for parents or siblings.

This can mean emotional support when they’re depressed, helping them put their clothes on because they can’t manage themselves or getting meals ready for the family.

At the other, there are 60,000 16 and 17-year-olds looking after households and paying bills, making sure people get to their medical appointments, giving people their injections, carrying out personal care such as bathing disabled relatives and supporting parents even when their mental health is at its worst.

These are hugely complex roles and between the caring they are juggling school demands.

The Carers Trust supports over 24,000 young carers, and they are constantly trying to reach more.

The government has the chance to ensure that the right support is provided for these  special youngsters.

Two pieces of legislation currently before parliament present a historic opportunity to improve young carers’ lives. The children and families bill, currently in the House of Commons, could be used to ensure that young carers who need support get a proper assessment and support to ensure their development isn’t put at risk.

But getting support for young carers themselves isn’t enough.

We need to make sure that adults who have care needs are also properly supported so that children are not relied upon to look after their families.

The care bill, before the House of Lords, is exactly where that can happen. If the government doesn’t amend it, the bill should acknowledge that it is relying on our children to pick up the care when no one else will.

I find it hard to believe that we potentially have legislation that actually underpins government failure to provide support and care.

The facts are all so sanitised, but the truth is we have grown a society, just like those in less enlightened times, where children have been given responsibilities for ‘providing’ things they never should.

Day centres users choose manager

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A care home in Glasgow has given its day centre users the ultimate say in defining their own care by involving them in the hiring of new staff.

Staff at Munro Court Day Care Centre in Anniesland came up with the idea of giving their residents a recruitment role when it came to appointing a new day care manager.

Wow! How brave is this.

This groundbreaking initiative proved a huge hit with service users who were given the chance to devise questions for candidates and even to form an interviewing panel.

Speaking to Care Industry News online, Karen Reid, resource centre manager at Munro Court, said: “We believe that our service users should be involved in the development of the service we provide, and we realised that this should include choosing new staff members.


“At our day care centre we encourage service users to fully participate in the development of the service, in telling us what activities they wish to pursue within their centre, so it seemed natural to involve them in choosing those who will be working with them on a day to day basis.

 “In the past we have asked service users to tell us the qualities they look for in staff and to give us questions to ask during initial interviews, however this was the first time service users formed a panel which took part in the interviewing itself.

 “As a result of this process Julie McLoughlin was chosen as our new day care service assistant manager, and I think having service users involved in her appointment has contributed to how well she has integrated with everyone here.”

 I love this, just the kind of happy story to set us up for the weekend.

Of the 58 service users who use the centre, some spend up to a maximum of three days there a week, so it was important to existing staff that new members of the care team were well liked by service users.

When interviewing Julie and other candidates for the role, four service users formed a small panel to ask a range of questions including ‘what do you hope to achieve by working at our day care centre?’ and ‘how would you include us in the running of the day care centre?’

In the future staff at Munro Court Day Care Centre plan on involving service users in the appointment of all new staff, whether through providing questions asked at interviews or in meeting candidates themselves.

This is one of the most heartening tales I have read for ages. It clearly honours the service users, is fulfilling a Keeping it Real core principle by allowing the service users to define the kind of care they want and, what’s more. It’s working.

 Have a good weekend.

Written by debbielq

May 17, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Campaign to toughen up action on elder abuse

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The Queen’s Speech included a trailer for the draft Care Support Bill that outlined some adult safeguarding clauses of which we all need to be aware.

Following some measured legal digestion, the alarm bells are now ringing on what this new legislation will really bring.

Action on Elder abuse has produced a short briefing paper to highlight several areas that need improvement. The observations are interesting.

Current protection systems were established in 2000 by No Secrets, (which is guidance under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970).

In 2007, following publication of the Prevalence Study into the extent of elder abuse within the community, the Government committed to a refresh of the No Secrets guidance on safeguarding vulnerable adults.

There was particular reference to the legislation underpinning adult protection policy. This review was finally concluded in 2009. A large number of issues were identified by that review, the majority of which are not addressed by the current draft Care and Support Bill.

Action on Elder Abuse makes a bold statement about the current Bill: “The Adult Safeguarding clauses of the draft Bill are insufficient to ensure the

protection of people who are subject to abuse and who cannot protect themselves without outside assistance.”

In this context abuse includes assault, intimidation, neglect and theft/fraud, the group explains, while calling for “much more comprehensive response to the need to protect adults who are vulnerable to abuse inflicted by people in positions or relationships of trust.”

Figures on abuse – mainly in victims’ own homes – are shocking. 8.6% of older people living in our communities are subject to elder abuse (in excess of 500,000 people). 60% of victims are over 80 years of age and more than 15% are over 90 years old. Nearly a quarter (23%) live with their abusers (66% of abusers are relatives) and 19% of victims have dementia.

So what is Action on Elder Abuse seeking to achieve?

Powers to stop abusers imprisoning victims in their own homes – some 40% of safeguarding referrals are about people living in their own home.

A duty on agencies to notify the Local Authority if they believe an adult may be at risk of abuse.

Local Authorities cannot be expected to identify all abuse by themselves, or to rely on the goodwill of others to make referrals. There is a need to underline the responsibility of all agencies to report if they have reasonable belief that an adult is at risk.

A criminal charge of elder/adult abuse.

The group is seeking a new criminal charge of elder/adult abuse to cover circumstances where an adult uses their relationship or position to cause or allow an older person or dependent adult to suffer unnecessary physical pain or

mental suffering, or injures their health, or steals, defrauds or embezzles their money or property.

Adequate Funding (there’s the F-word again).

Referrals are increasing year on year by at least 11% and there needs to be sufficient funds to ensure cash starved local authorities can guarantee abused adults receive intervention.

I add my total support to these goals.