A Dignity Code for Older People?

Old hands

The Daily Telegraph today prints a letter which sets out the need for a ‘Dignity Code’ in Health and Social Care calling on Hospitals, Care Homes and other institutions to prevent ‘issues of abuse and neglect’.

The article accompanying the letter, the Telegraph says, will encourage care workers to have this code written into their contract.
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Discontent at the UKCP

Earlier this week I commented on the worrying state of complaints procedures at the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Since then somebody has forwarded on to me an e-mail that’s doing the rounds in the UKCP. It appears to show a senior figure in the organisation expressing thinly-veiled criticisms of the way the UKCP is run.

The e-mail poses a series of questions to the candidates in the forthcoming election for UKCP chair. The author suggests, “It has been said by some of those in positions of authority in the UKCP that the members should keep quiet and let the Board get on with running the organisation” and that “There is little transparency in the spending of the members’ money”.

The author also appears to have a low opinion for the current proposals for psychotherapy to have “assured voluntary registration” (where self-regulating bodies such as the UKCP get a stamp of approval from the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence) rather than statutory regulation. They ask, “Those with statutory titles i.e. psychiatrist, practitioner psychologist, psychiatric nurses, social workers etc are already perceived as being more professional. By going the VQA route do we not join the licensed service professionals such as hair dressers, beauticians, carers and day care workers?”

The full text is below.
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Why the NHS will always be a Political Football

Today a member of the government on the radio said that the NHS should not be a political football how wrong can he get? The NHS has always been a political football because it is what this nation holds dear as our core of humanity. Without the NHS we would have less work, poorer living conditions, poor health and social care, more isolation, homelessness and poverty. What will it take for politicians to realise that it is not the business world that is keeping our economy afloat (or not) but our healthcare service which is one of the biggest employers in the country. Much of our country may not be very good on the industrial side now that all our industries have been farmed out to other countries, where the health and social care is less favourable shall we say. But we are very industrious at taking care of ourselves and making sure that we look after our bodies so that we can work. We could not do this without the NHS and for all its faults it is the engine that keeps this country running from the staff, to patients, to suppliers, to tax payers and managers, we all have an important role to play in this political game. For many people in the UK our lives depend on the NHS in many ways and it is for that reason it will always be a political football. Today, the tactic of excluding people from discussions who are not ‘constructively engaged’ is the same as in any game, they are simply picking the ball up and not playing anymore.

The UKCP’s Dangerous Method – Why It Matters

Last Friday I posted about a worrying case in which the UKCP has been taking since February 2009 to investigate the conduct of a psychotherapist, during which the individual has been able to carry on practising regardless.

The case is important because of the self-regulating nature of psychotherapy in the UK. The UKCP is currently trying to position itself to become an “assured voluntary regulator” for the profession, whereby its complaints and disciplinary procedures will receive official endorsement. Cases such as this could cast doubt on its ability to take on such a role.
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Protecting Our Children: Will It Change Attitudes To Social Work?

The excellent Protecting Our Children concluded on Monday evening. The practitioners and programme-makers deserve congratulations for an absorbing, honest and above all human depiction of contemporary social work to sit alongside the two Panorama programmes looking at children in care.


In all the meetings I’ve attended over the past three weeks, conversation has turned to the latest programme as soon as a lull in proceedings appeared and often when it didn’t. Generally it’s gone down very well, in sharp contrast to the scant few past series covering our world. I remember one dire effort that I think looked at a social work team in the north. Eminently forgettable, I nevertheless recall it began with a social worker guiltily shovelling down a giant doner kebab whilst at his desk then playing up to the camera in a manner that would have embarrassed David Brent. Gloomily we watched well-intentioned but ill-conceived and executed direct work with a young child and a succession of families unsure about what was happening.
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Work! Fair?

There has been much recent debate about the extension of the idea of ‘workfare’ in the UK. ‘Workfare’ is supposed to be an extension of ‘welfare’ seen by the syntax used in the word itself. It is an idea which grew from the idea that people should not receive benefit entitlement as a result of unemployment without ‘giving something back’. In the context in which I’ll be using it, it refers to mandatory work ‘placements’ for people who are not able to secure employment in order to receive benefits that relate to being out of work.  It sounds quite warm and fluffy because of course people should be helped into work and ‘give something back’ but the word also implies a series of sanctions of this work is not undertaken.

Outside the Jobcentre
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A Greek Tragedy

I’ve been following the stories from Greece over the past couple of years as recession and euro crisis has hit with full force.  While I have a very perfunctory knowledge of economics (does an A level count?) and perhaps brush some of the details from my mind, it’s hard not to appreciate and empathise with the human cost of the austerity measures that are being driven though without a democratic mandate by the current Greek government, itself appointed.

Acropolis - Athens - Greece

I couldn’t fail though to be moved by the pictures that came in from Athens on Sunday night as the city burned while the politicians argued as they risked plunging Greece into ever sharper constraints demanded by the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank to fund another bailout.

While sometimes it’s easy to think of numbers such as 130 Billion Euros as beyond imagination – when a number reaches such a great number it becomes an intellectual equivalent to an statement of infinity, the figure, unfortunately, is real and the debt will be met at considerable human cost.

It’s not going to be those politicians who vote on this matter that will be punished by these measures.

CNN lists some of the proposed ‘savings’ and we can see exactly where the ‘pain’ is going to be felt

• Reduce the minimum wage straight away from €751 ($989) to €600 ($790) per month. For those under 25, the minimum wage will be slashed by 32%

• Cut pension provision and include a “strict link between contributions and benefits”

• Make 15,000 public sector workers redundant by the end of the year.

So who is going to pay the highest price to the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission?

Those who have the least spare. The young, the unemployed (whose ranks will be growing with redundancies) and the pensioners.

We can joke about bloated public servants – and I won’t vouch for every one of those 15,000 jobs ( note that our own government does the same here) but public sector workers do have functions to serve and do work with people across all income brackets. These functions will be lost.

Again in the CNN article, chillingly, it is noted there are proposals to reduce spending on overtime of hospital doctors and make 1 billion euro savings on medication.

While there is a proposal to push through measures against tax evasion, that really is too little too late. The price is being paid by citizens for actions of previous governments and ruling classes who were more attentive to looking after their own then building better systems for their citizens.

As for the future, as well as the spectre of a move towards extremism across Europe as the impact of the bank-created recession builds there is likely to be more generations of emigrants of those most able to leave the countries that struggle the most. This will mean that those left behind struggle to a greater degree.

Unemployment in Greece is currently touching 21%. and it may yet defaulton the payments that have been demanded.

Caught between two evils, it’s hard to know or see a way out but there will be as there has to be.

We cannot ignore the pain inflicted on the southern fringes of Europe. Where Greece go, others may follow. Although we are not facing the same situations in the UK, the instinct of the ruling and political classes to save ‘their own’ at the expense of those who have least to give certainly rings true and while I doubt the empathy and solidarity of one social worker in the UK will have much significance to the people of Greece, it’s all I have to give. It seems so little.

Escaping Athens