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By Debbie le Quesne

Posts Tagged ‘Paul Burstow

Human Rights Act now to include care at home

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Those receiving state-funded care in their own homes will now be given additional protection by the Human Rights Act.

Government ministers have agreed to the move following pressure from the Liberal Democrat side of the coalition.

An amendment to the care bill in the Lords will be tabled to make sure the Human Rights Act covers people receiving care in their own home, whether from the state or a private body under contract to the state. However, it will not apply to self-funded, privately provided care.

The announcement, which I applaud, comes after a six-month campaign by pressure groups for elderly people, as well as by the Lib Dems.

Let me quote a national newspaper: “The issue of protecting vulnerable elderly people has been pushed back and forth between the Commons and the Lords, with the Ministry of Justice arguing that previous case law did not mean there was any ambiguity about the extent to which human rights legislation covered state-funded social care.

“There has been cross-party pressure to extend the protection of the act beyond those currently covered – mainly those receiving care in care homes.”

Previous Liberal Democrat care minister, Paul Burstow, led the charge against the Conservative stance, to ensure that people who receive care in their own homes should be covered by the Human Rights Act.

It makes a lot of sense to me . . .Why on earth should people’s rights be lost for having care delivered into their homes!

The change of heart has been welcomed by Age Concern and the Labour Party and no doubt a raft of other organisations too.

Pledge to tackle gap in law over care clients’ human rights

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We’re big on human rights in the care industry – it’s at the very heart of personalised care. Client choice and honouring those choices in the best ways possible is the bedrock of modern care plans.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to discover that once a person needs care in a community or residential setting “there is no guarantee that the Human Rights Act will apply,“ according to former minister of care services Paul Burstow.

The good news is that what he describes as a “gap in the law” has been discussed in parliament as the care bill went through its final stages in the Commons.

“I am very pleased to say that the minister [Norman Lamb, I presume] has now accepted the importance of this point,” says the now-back bench MP, who lost his job in a Cabinet cull.

Writing in the Guardian he adds: “Changes have been promised which should ensure that, when the bill becomes law, Human Rights Act protections will be extended to enhance protections for some of our most vulnerable citizens. This is a cause for celebration: it has been a long fought campaign, and tribute is due to the Equality and Human Rights Commission – among others – who have done so much to champion the issue.”

In a care bill report last year, Mr Burstow recommended that “wherever a person is officially cared for, if the care is regulated by the Care Quality Commission, then that individual should have the protection of the Human Rights Act.“

He adds: “Without this change, the law is confused and unfair. Currently, some people are covered, others not. Take two people being cared for in the same nursing home: one had their place arranged by their family, the other by the council. Only the one whose care was arranged by the council is protected by the Human Rights Act.

“So a resident of a care home may find they have no security of tenure, and can be evicted very easily. It is well known that the shock of being forced to move out of a home can contribute to someone’s death. The Human Rights Act can afford protection in such cases, but only if the council arranged the care.

 

“Worse still, if you are cared for in your own home by a private or third sector agency – even if the council arranged it – human rights protection does not currently apply at all.”

This anomaly is truly outrageous and all credit to Mr Burstow for his diligence in campaigning to make things fair.

It’s scary these things creep under the radar, but what I find most disturbing is Mr Burstow’s revelation that a cross party vote in the House of Lords defeated the government last year, voting to amend the care bill to iron out this anomaly. However, the Ministry of Justice was adamant that the act should not apply to private care arrangements, and the amendment was subsequently overturned at committee stage in the Commons last month.

Thank goodness this is now being addressed with the minister committed to consider the issue further, and to work with MPs and officials to reach a consensus on the issue.

‘Fear of abuse’ putting people off care homes, so we need to turn the tide

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Oh I do wish we could we could rewrite the script. The public perception of our care sector is so far wide of the mark and it makes me so angry that a few shabby providers grab all the negative headlines and again we have another negative report, this time by think tank Demos.

Fear of being abused or neglected is putting people off care homes, according to research.

“Fewer than one in four adults would be willing to consider moving into a home if they become frail in old age, with concerns about the risk of being badly treated by staff cited as the main reason,“ according to a piece in The Telegraph.

The findings suggest an overwhelmingly negative perception of the social care system.

It’s at times like this we need to galvanise our media resources and tell a different story. It will not come overnight, but needs to be grown organically by people just like you and I who feed good headline-making material to journalists.

The survey, of 2,000 adults by Populus Data Solutions, found that the attributes most commonly associated with care homes included “isolation”, “boredom”, and “illness”, as well as “abuse”.

Just 24 per cent said they would consider moving into a care home, compared with 43 per cent who would not.

Some 54 per cent who ruled out moving into a nursing home said they feared being neglected or abused.

But amidst all this gloom there has to be a silver lining. The findings from the government-backed body have to increase the pressure on ministers to increase funding for social care to raise standards. And we certainly need that.

Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat MP and former health minister rightly says that the “poor reputation” of the care service “leads people to put off thinking about making plans only to find they are making difficult decisions when their lives hit a crisis.”

Our so-called poor reputation needs lots of fixes and good PR is only one of them. Where as we could never condone poor care because funding is lacking, we recognise – as do our government ministers – there is an inextricable link between provision quality and money,

Sadly, in some cases, you get what you pay for.

Charity initiative – is this the way ahead for our cash-strapped councils?

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The future of social care services is one of the biggest questions facing all councils so we desperately need sustainable models to show the way ahead.

But a national charity just might have a solution – or at least a method of easing the financial burdens.

NESTA, the national leaders in innovation whose mission is to “bring great ideas to life” has been working with the local authority in Wigan.

People at the Heart of Scholes is one of six local authority projects selected as part of the Creative Councils programme.

The pilot project is looking at ways to address the acute challenge of how the council meets rising needs in the provision of adult social care, at a time when the population is ageing and budgets are diminishing.

The project aims to connect people with health and social-care needs with the vast under-used resource of neighbours, local people, volunteers and groups who want to give something back.

So is this what Mr Cameron meant when he famously said: “We’re all in this together”?

Project managers from the council recently staged a two-day “camp” to showcase the work currently being developed.

As well as representatives of NESTA, officers from the five other local authorities involved in the Creative Councils programme, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Monmouthshire, Rotherham and Stoke, attended.

Councillor Keith Cunliffe, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for healthier communities, was reported as saying in Wigan Today: “Over the past six months, we have been testing a number of ideas including a ‘community credits’ scheme to encourage community contributions, volunteering and local business development.

“It’s hoped that lessons learnt from this early work will be used to benefit the rest of the borough, and who knows, perhaps the entire country.”

People at the Heart of Scholes is a key part of the new arrangements for personal budgets for adult social care, which will give service users and families greater control over the way in which their personal needs are met.

Lord Peter Smith, Leader of Wigan Council, said in a Press statement: “We live in challenging times and we recognise the need for radical innovation.

“This project could potentially reap unprecedented benefits, not just for the vulnerable and isolated people who rely on social care services but also, in the long term, it could have a significant impact on the broader social care economy. We are committed to this work and have the capacity and enthusiasm to turn good ideas into real solutions.”

So far we really haven’t a clue what benefits there are to the scheme – only time will tell. But I’m encouraged some local authorities are prepared to look outside the box.

Clearly this initiative is brave and my own biggest question centres around the fears of developing a kind of Dads’ Army to tackle an issue which should be addressed by central Government professionals.

However, I applaud the initiative and wish the project well. I’ll be looking out for its first official report.

Joined-up thinking – why is it so hard to achieve the obvious?

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Forgive me if I seem radical in believing that joined-up thinking about the critical issues of social care could actually achieve an awful lot.

Currently NHS and social care budgets in England are separate and realistically there seems little movement from where I’m viewing things that this will change.

Last month shadow health secretary Andy Burnham suggested that under Labour both budgets could be put into a super pot of cash – a massive £119bn a year.

Regularly we hear that the NHS, mental health and social care sectors need more cross pollination, more exchange and a more cohesive approach to caring.

Truth is, as long as we have separate budgets that kind of goal will never be realised.

Mr Burnham said in a speech to health professionals said existing “dangerous” gaps between services put the vulnerable at risk.

Putting the funds into one pot would see councils getting much more involved in making decisions about the NHS, while the biggest hospitals may end up expanding into the community, perhaps even running care homes, Mr Burnham said.

As a way ahead, I actually think it could work. There could be huge areas of savings identified with a single overview approach and seamless interaction between different streams of caring.

Clearly changing the way the funding would be made up would see the distribution of it change too.

Mr Burnham referred to the proposal as “whole-person care”.

“As we live longer, people’s needs become a blur of physical, mental and social,” he said and how true that is.

“It is just not possible to disaggregate them and meet them through our three separate services,” he argued.

But that’s exactly what we are doing now.

I know of cases where hospital patients who are clinically fit for discharge have been bed blocking for weeks while they await a step-down physio bed, or another specialist service.

And there are other issues too . . . we end up paying what must be huge sums of cash as people fall through the social care monitoring net in the community and end up in expensive hospital beds.

What is the incentive for prevention in these cases? It should be self-evident, because it would save billions, but somehow it just isn’t.

Mr Burnham has called for a cross-party debate and has won the backing of the NHS Confederation.

For what it’s worth Mr Burnham, you have my backing too.

Care budgets and the forecast without sunny periods

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Sending on health and social care is expected to swallow up half of all government spending in 50 years’ time.

In a study the King’s Fund said that the UK now spends around 9 per cent of its national income on health and social care, That’s more than twice as much as 50 years ago.

And the figure could more than double again to nearly 20 per cent by 2061, according to forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

A report in the Guardian online says: “Based on projections for economic growth and current levels of taxation and government expenditure, the fund’s chief economist John Appleby estimates that this would translate to around 50 of cent of public spending.”

Funding this with borrowing would be “unrealistic in the short to medium term and would be unsustainable in the longer term”.

The King’s Fund says that NHS moneys could be raised from rising taxation adding around £570 a year to the tax bill of every household in the UK.

However, Appleby warns there would be a backlash eventually. “Tax increases of the magnitude required to fund significant additional spending would, at some point, encounter public resistance  . . . difficult choices lie ahead about how much to spend and how to fund (the demands of the health service),” he is reported as saying.

And he adds something very interesting. He says that although much has been made of the demographic timebomb of an ageing population “contrary to popular perception – this is likely to drive only a small proportion of the increase”.

So what are we to believe? I really don’t know anymore, but I am certain of one thing. That I join a growing consensus that care has to be delivered within its means and government priorities ned to change dramatically.

I know we need to build for tomorrow, but we are currently outlaying £32bn to build HS2 – the high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and into Toton near Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Airport.

Our health service is on its knees, our private social care sector is breaking, care is clearly being compromised at many levels, the disabled, marginalized and mentally ill are all targets to do what?

Balance the national debt. Hmm. Mr Cameron, why are you so willing to commit billions to a railway? Couldn’t such money be better channeled into care? Oh Debbie, how stupid of me to think in such a logical way!

Have a good weekend.

Care caterers are Guinness record champions

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I’ve always championed initiatives that raise the profile of care work no matter what that work is.

So I was thrilled when I stumbled on a story about The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) which has made history by successfully setting the first ever Guinness World Record for most community meals delivered in three hours.

It made me laugh out loud, but the record makers highlight the vital work Community Meals Service in the UK and the numbers who rely on this kind of service.

The official figures from Guinness World Records, released in January, state that the NACC delivered 526 community meals in three hours in 16 locations across England. The figure is 226 more than required to secure the title.

Community Meals providers across the UK successfully served the specifically-developed two-course menu of roast beef, potatoes and seasonal vegetables, rounded off with the Great British favourite pudding of apple crumble and custard to users of the service.

Confirmation of the NACC’s success came from Guinness some three months after the actual World Record attempt, which took place between 11am and 1pm on Monday 1 October 2012 – International Older Persons’ Day and the first day of NACC Community Meals Week, Care Industry News reported.

What is remarkable is that more than 20,000 elderly, housebound, or disabled people in the UK actually used the Community Meal lifeline between 11am and 1pm on Monday 1 October 2012.

This huge gap between official and unofficial figures is due to the very specific and detailed rules created by Guinness in order for the NACC to achieve the record.

The community mantra is heard much more frequently these days and it’s heartening that so many more people can keep their independence longer with care packages at home.

But in these austere times it’s essential that services like Community Meals continue.

As well as providing nutritious hot meals I would confidently assume that it also provides the sole source of regular human contact for an alarming number.

The old Meals on Wheels has had its day, but the need for such a service has not changed.

In sensible economics supply is usually generated by demand.

In care sector economics supply appears to be governed by auditors. I do hope this invaluable lifeline remains viable.