Tag Archives: Big Society

Alzheimer’s Society – a peculiar kind of charity?

There’s a disturbing piece in the current issue of Private Eye (No.  1284; 18 March 2011 – 31 March 2011; ‘In the Back’ section; page 30) about the Alzheimer’s Society.

The article’s not available online, only an online taster:

Dementia Care – Fear and loathing at the Alzheimer’s Society as volunteers reject the charity’s new-found “professionalisation”, saying it ignores local needs.

According to the article, volunteers who have been fundraising for years via local Alzheimer’s Society branches are now leaving to start their own breakaway groups.  It would appear that the Alzheimer’s Society decided to abolish 240 branch committees, merging them into large regional centres, and the Society has apparently seized control of all the funds within those branches, and also the branch property.

If the content of the Private Eye article is accurate – and it is rare for The Eye to get it wrong! – it is shocking.

The Eye states:

In addition, some members who challenged decisions of their new managers were treated appallingly, sometimes locked out of the premises they had run for years.

One is Ernie Thompson, who started the Sunderland branch in 1987 and chaired it until it had an annual turnover of around £400,000.  His reward for years of unpaid work?  Changed locks and “everything ransacked and seized”, he says.

So much for charity!  David Cameron must  be invited to say whether this strange action on the part of a dementia charity falls within or without The Big Society.

No wonder Fund razing is Private Eye’s chosen headline.

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Seven Ps for the Vision for Adult Social Care

A while ago, I mentioned the The Seven Ages of Man, and continued the theme with The Seven Stages of Dementia .  Then came the Seven Steps to end the scandal of malnutrition.  I did consider then that the number 7 might be powerful, magnificent even and so would emerge again.

Then, along came The Seven Ps, all listed within The Seven Principles of the Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens.

Prevention – Personalisation – Partnership – Plurality – Protection – Productivity – People

I now have a vision of the brainstorming session that must have accompanied the conception of The Seven Ps.  A kiss (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) was passed round the room, attracting and enticing members not to overstretch themselves.  The Dictionary of Management-speak was lifted from the bookcase; it fell open to reveal the page of Ps.  The Seven Ps were conceived immaculately, provided with perfect pre-natal care and delivered without pain relief.

The Dalai Lama said that if one’s life is simple, contentment has to come.

It’s somewhat strange to see People at the end of the list of principles, but I’m sure our Coalition writers have their reasons.  Shouldn’t People come first?

There are a few missing Ps, as far as I can see, the first being the paradox.  Is it possible to strip and slash local authority funding and budgets while demanding that local authorities assume responsibility for certain functions that were previously the responsibility of National Government?  It does not make sense.

Creating capable communities is a great idea, but the word capable appears just once in the full text – apart from the title and as a heading on every page – on page 32 Delivering the vision demands a capable and well-trained workforce.

This capable and well-trained workforce has yet to emerge, and may struggle to emerge with all the cuts being in place overnight and without much in the way of consultation by our Con Dem Coalition.  I almost resisted the temptation to mention the lack of mandate given by the Great British Voting Public (the real Big Society – the fictional Big Society remains a mystery to me) to this minority-marriage-of-convenience Government – but that really is another story, another irresistible temptation.

New career pathways will be developed, including more apprenticeships and a new care worker role in home and residential care, as well as more PAs.

Is this yet-to-be-trained capable workforce going to create the capable communities?  Will there be a flurry of independent (for-profit private) providers emerging to provide the training?  Will there be a move to create a genuine career for care workers?  Will there be a decision to pay more than the basic minimum hourly rate of pay so as to attract care workers to care about the work they do?  Or will the private profit preferences prevent progress?  (Sorry, that’s only five Ps.)

Is the capable community to comprise family, friends and neighbours only, with the capable and yet-to-be-trained workforce retreating into the background?   An ever receding professional workforce?  The emphasis throughout the whole Vision is on informal support via kind and caring neighbours, willing and able to provide sufficient support to those in need; a Timebank reminiscent of the bartering of old (not much use to those who are already too frail/old/incapacitated to be able to give the little they can now in return for what they need now!).  Active citizens?

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, one of the four ‘Vanguard Communities’ for Big Society, will test a web-based complementary currency approach for care and support, to assess the potential benefits both in reduced demand for formal care and in people’s quality of life. That might work in Windsor and Maidenhead, but it won’t work where I live!  It may work in many places where an existing community spirit and involvement already exists – but it won’t work in areas where there is no community spirit.  Recent decades have demolished communities in some areas; it could take as many decades to create flourishingly caring communities again.  What happens to the people living with needs who happen to live in those decimated communities?

Personalisation and choice sound great, and both are long overdue.  But I’m not convinced by the plan to increase rapidly the availability of Personal Budgets ‘preferably as Direct Payments’.  Personal Budgets ‘preferably as Direct Payments’ won’t suit everyone in need of care.  They will undoubtedly suit some recipients who have the physical and mental abilities and energies (or the family/friend/neighbourhood support) to become an employer, to research and search for a PA if that’s their wish, to hire and fire (if need be) a care worker/PA, to manage the financial aspects  – and good luck to them.   The Vision might be less rosy for someone with mental capacity problems, such as dementia, and who may not have family/friends to support them.  Can the Vision envisage vulnerable elderly people coping comfortably to set up their own care package?

According to Pulse: patients shun personal health budgets

As for Demos: Personal budgets will revolutionise social care delivery, but only if local authorities are fully prepared

The Charities are changing rapidly, too – so if the reliance on charities increases just when some charities are crumbling, what then?

File on 4 programme on Charity funding and fraud  – grassroots rebellion is underway

Transcript available  if the programme is no longer.

The Oxford Student – ‘tax the rich minority and give to the poor majority’ – is on the right track.  ‘The electorate have sleep-walked into a cannibalisation of public services and welfare that will push Britain back seventy or so years, as £8.1 billion of public spending has been cut.

To the people who voted for the Tories in May, think about this: who paid for the Conservative election campaign? Who bankrolled the triumphalist swagger of these men into Whitehall? Tax evader Lord Ashcroft donated £5.3 million to the Tory campaign. That’s a lot of money, and it doesn’t come without strings attached. Nor does the £1 million donated by hedge fund manager Michael Hintze, whose finance group CQS is based in the Cayman Islands tax haven. Nor still does the £500,000 donated by John Wood, boss of SRM Global, which also has 7 hedge funds registered in the Caymans. These donations makes it difficult to believe that the Tory promise to crack down on tax evasion is anything other than shallow rhetoric. And the fact that the chairman of Care UK, one of Britain’s largest private healthcare providers, donated £21,000 to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley also makes it difficult to believe that the (real term) cuts to the NHS were made in good faith.

Is the Vision the first step towards the privatisation of social care?  The LibConDemolition of the Welfare State, of the NHS, of Social Care?  Who gave permission for that?  Not me.

So, Seven Ps from me to the ConDem Coalition:

Properly procured popular permission prevents public protest.

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Councils’ body says cuts threaten home care for elderly

“Virtually all” councils in England and Wales could be forced to end home help for elderly and disabled people, the Local Government Association has said, according to this report from  BBC News.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said it was “wrong to scare people”.

But shadow health minister John Healey said: “This shows you cannot make big budget cuts without big consequences.

But you can scare people, of course, if you are a Big Budget Cutter who can’t see the Big Consequences for the Big Society that hasn’t yet been created.

Perhpas we would be better off with ‘virtual councils’.

Otherwise  “virtually all” elderly and disabled people who depend on home care from their councils will be “virtually  neglected”.

Sad world we now inhabit.

I’m not feeling positively optimistic  about the future of care for  elderly and disabled people.

In fact, I’m virtually pessimistic about it all.

Forward to a real future we could all care about.  Not back to a past we thought we’d virtually and really left behind.

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How fair is Britain?

I’m half-way through reading “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Richard Dawkins.

I’m hooked!

Alongside, I’ve also been dipping into the first “Triennial Review “published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.  No, I haven’t read the full 750 pages yet, but I’ve read the transcript of the video overview, and a good few more pages too. 

Read more ….

I’m twice hooked!!

OK, I admit it was the word ‘triennial’ that grabbed me … for purely personal reasons.  I am approaching a first “Triennial Review” that is all my own.  Namely the Triennial Review that I promised myself I would conduct at the end of my 3rd year (yes, third year) into the circumstances of neglect that surrounded my own relative in need of caring care.  But neglect was all that came her way.  And she died a painful death, and an earlier than anticipated death, as a result of that neglect.

“It’s the job of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to help society make further progress.”  Would that be the Big Society that David Cameron keeps banging on about?  Or the other (only?)  Society that we all know of old?  And yes, I am quietly hoping it’s the second of those two options that the Equality and Human Rights Commission strives to help.

Can you help me also, EHRC?  Can you help me to achieve progress, as I work my way through the muck that is being delivered (almost daily now!!) from those who are supposed to care about ‘fairness’ and to care about ‘care’?  If you are able to do that, please get in touch and I will graciously accept your assistance.

Or are there two societies now?  One Big; one Small.  One where ‘fairness’ is defined by the Big Society backed by the ConDemNation, to the detriment of the Small Society comprising the little people?

“This October we are publishing our first ever such review, entitled ‘How Fair Is Britain’.

It describes the chances, choices and outcomes in life of people from all different groups.”  I’m still looking for a few words in the transcript: older, people, dementia, in care, but then I found some of them in the online summary.

Care and support:  (follow the link below if you care to read it all ….)

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/key-projects/triennial-review/online-summary/care-and-support/

“As might be expected, we are more likely to need care as we grow older. We are also more likely to provide it later in life, as we have children and as our families and friends age with us.”

Don’t get me wrong, EHRC.  I applaud our past history of fairness, our well-known and well-recognised tradition of fairness and respect for other points of view, culture,  gender, race, sexuality,  religion and so on … that meaningful equality (as you call it) that we have achieved.  Historic prowess shouldn’t allow for complacency.

History is neither our present, nor our future. We must find the way to demonstrate today that we value and care enough about our history of fairness, our reliable traditions connected to our history of fairness, and our past celebrations of our ‘fairness’ to carry us forward to our today and to our tomorrow?

It is not enough though to express good intentions, what matters is making a practical tangible difference.  And you can’t hope to make change happen in the real world without looking hard at the facts.

I do appreciate that you’re also in a fragile state, EHRC, being – for want of a better phrase – currently under review.  But then again, I do wonder whether this fairness that we purport to attribute to this (as we would like to see it) fair nation of ours really does care, or even  whether the word ‘care’ may disappear from our vocabulary fairly soon, to be replaced by … neglect.

The spending review currently being imposed by our Married-by-Convenience Coalition Government may well demolish all of our hopes for ‘fairness’, especially fairness in old age.  If we allow everything that has become known as caring care to be scrapped without decent consultation and without decent consent, then the Older Person will be thrown out with the mucky bathwater.

Do we really care?  If so, why don’t I believe you?  Why is our ‘caring care’ not visible?  Why have I spent 3 years of my life trying to establish whether or not we/you/they really do care?

Have we evolved enough to care?  Or are we in need of another “Blind Watchmaker”?

Will I be thrice hooked?  Ever?  Never?

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