Progressive children’s legislation in reverse gear?

Children Act 1989 report (1991)The Policy Institute at King’s and the Social Care Workforce Research Unit have reproduced a 1991 report into the implementation of the Children Act 1989, and updated it with a new foreword and introduction, the latter by Jane Tunstill, who here discusses current legislative proposals. (1,408 words)

It is no coincidence that the longest-running play on the London stage, The Mousetrap, which is still being shown after 64 years, is based on a key tragic event in the history of childcare policy in this country. Agatha Christie recognised that the death of Dennis O’Neill in 1945, at the hands of his foster parents, was a topic to engage the attention of her readers, and audiences have certainly proved her right. The tragedy, and subsequent enquiry, directly triggered the Children Act 1948, which introduced a national framework of children’s departments responsible for the systematic oversight of the welfare of children.

The recent release of Ken Loach’s new film, I, Daniel Blake, has reminded commentators of the popular feeling aroused by his 1965 film, Cathy Come Home. The image of children being taken forcibly from their homeless parents by social workers had a powerful impact on attitudes and national child care policy. Indeed, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) issued guidance in 1971 that no social worker should receive a child into care because of homelessness alone. The 2013 film Philomena attracted huge popular acclaim for its portrayal of the Roman Catholic Church’s forced adoption of the babies of single mothers, and 2016 saw a papal apology for the practice. Continue reading

Interactive technologies and games – what relevance do they have for social care?

John WoolhamJohn Woolham is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s. (856 words)

There’s a saying, apparently, amongst actors: never work with children or animals. For academics, one might add children, animals and robots—if one of the presentations I recently attended was anything to go by—but I’ll come to that.

The conference, known as I-TAG, (Interactive Technologies and Games) was held in Nottingham and organised by colleagues from Nottingham Trent University. I don’t know anything about robotics or computer technology (in fact, anyone who knows me will attest to my cack-handedness at anything even vaguely IT related). I am, though, very interested in exploring how electronic assistive technologies and telecare can help people who need social care to maintain independence and quality of life; and because I recently became Deputy Editor of the Journal of Assistive Technologies (soon to be re-named the Journal of Enabling Technologies) I went along for one day of this two day conference to find out more about ITAG, and to invite anyone doing interesting work to consider publishing with us. Continue reading

Let’s Talk – Care Homes and Delayed Discharge

Bev EvansNorman CrumpBev Evans and Norman Crump, both of Lancaster University Management School, report from a recent meeting where participants discussed the transition from hospital to care home. (913 words)

According to the National Audit Office (2016), between 2013 and 2015, official delayed transfers of care rose 31 per cent and in 2015 accounted for 1.15 million bed days – 85 per cent of patients occupying these beds were aged over 65. Since 2010, waits for beds in nursing homes increased by 63 per cent. Across Morecambe Bay University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MBUHT) waiting for a care home place can be a significant cause of delay.

In early October, Cumbria Registered Social Care Managers’ Network, Kendal Integrated Care Community (ICC) and MBUHT convened a special ‘Let’s Talk’ discussion group which brought together local care home managers, social workers, hospital discharge coordinators, ward staff and nurse practitioners from the community. The aim of the meeting was to explore how the transition from hospital to a care home could be improved. ‘Let’s Talk’ is a specially facilitated session delivered by King’s College London, Lancaster University, Dignity in Dementia and the South Lakes Registered Social Care Managers Network. Meetings are designed to enable participants to see issues from each other’s perspectives and to afford time to critically reflect on a particular ‘wicked issue’. Continue reading

Mental Health Social Care 2016: Research findings informing policy and practice

Dr Joan RapaportJoan Rapaport reports from the annual event co-hosted by the Social Care Workforce Research Unit and Making Research Count. The day started with a presentation from a user-led study. (1,173 words)

‘The Girls Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’: Perspectives from a user-led study on service user experiences of mental health related violence and abuse in the context of adult safeguarding: Dr Sarah Carr, Associate Professor of Mental Health Research, Middlesex University and Alison Faulkner, Independent Survivor Researcher, Mental Health.

‘It’s rather like writing a dark thriller’ were Sarah Carr’s opening comments regarding the research into service user experiences into and concepts of targeted violence and hostility, and prevention and protection. This small-scale exploratory study, led and entirely conducted by mental health service users, fills a gap in safeguarding research. It further provides an embedded knowledge exchange approach between service users, practitioners and agencies throughout the research process. Continue reading

Rules-of-thumb ~ are they the answer to our decision making dilemmas at the end of life for people with dementia?

PDFtoJPG.me-01Dr Nathan Davies discusses Rules of Thumb for End of Life Care for People with Dementia. (954 words)

Back in 2011 when I started my PhD and was working on a European study which was examining palliative care services for people with dementia, there was a distinct lack of guidance about how end of life care should be delivered. The only real ‘saving grace’ I guess was the Liverpool Care Pathway. This offered some guidance about what should happen towards the end of life. It was meant to incorporate and describe best practice from hospice care, the ‘gold standard’ of end of life care, and allow it to be translated to other settings such as the acute hospital ward. Although, I say saving grace… really, it wasn’t best suited to people with dementia and it only focused on the last few days of life.

The Liverpool Care Pathway received some shocking criticism, spearheaded mainly by the Daily Mail and ultimately this led to the removal of the pathway by the UK government in 2013. What we saw in the middle of our projects were practitioners losing more and more confidence in providing end of life care generally, let alone for people with dementia.
This led us to think, what can we do to help with practitioners confidence but not develop yet another pathway or guideline? Maybe what we need is something that is short, easy to remember, prompts us to think and leads us to an action. Cue light bulb moment, and we have the idea of developing rules-of-thumb (heuristics). Rules-of-thumb are simple, easy to remember schematic patterns which help with decision making. We were fortunate to gain funding for this research from the Alzheimer’s Society and Marie Curie. Our research team included dementia and end of life care experts, including Prof Steve Iliffe, Dr Kethakie Lamahewa, Prof Jill Manthorpe, Dr Rammya Mathew, and Dr Liz Sampson. Continue reading

The Prato Moment

imageProfessor Charlotte Williams OBE reports from Prato, Italy, on an international colloquium organised by the Deans of Social Work Education in Australia on 12-13 September 2016, at which Jill Manthorpe and Mary Baginsky participated. (570 words)

There are few opportunities to bring together a group of individuals in leading roles in social work education cross-nationally; particularly so in providing them with the thinking space to reflect critically and strategically over a two day ‘lock in’. This gathering could never be representative; it could never be comprehensive in the scope of issues, perspectives or topics it engaged with, nor could it be conclusive. Those ambitions are best left to the International Association of Schools of Social Work. But it did bring together a group of ‘thought leaders’, people who happened to hold significant positions across social work education East to West, in a catalytic moment. There was, we all hoped, an opportunity with some potential to reimagine social work education, present and future. Continue reading

Social work research with adults in England: The state we’re in

Manthorpe and Moriarty 2016 Social work research-01The adult social work sector in England needs to urgently identify its key research priorities, in an inclusive and rigorous way, if it is to generate the ideas and evidence needed to ensure that people receive the best possible support, according to researchers at the Policy Institute, King’s College London.

In a discussion paper on the state of social work research with adults in England, the researchers stress that the profession needs to be underpinned by research if it is to survive and to flourish. Among their recommendations are the establishment of a network that provides learning and mentor support for early career researchers, practitioner researchers, and managers interested in adult social work research, something that currently exists for researchers working on subjects such as ageing or in health services research. Continue reading

Discharged home with no home to go to

Peer research is a distinct type of service user involvement extending the expertise of lived experience into research. In peer research people with direct experience are involved in designing, delivering and shaping research (Revolving Doors, 2016).The Homelessness Research Programme at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit is currently running two research projects involving peer researchers. The first is looking at specialist primary care and the second at hospital discharge arrangements for homeless people. Both projects recently ran training and induction days for their peer researchers. In this blog James Fuller and Alan Kilmister (Peer Researchers on the Hospital Discharge Project) describe how they became involved in peer research, how their experience can make a difference and why striving for impact and change must be at the heart of this kind of participatory methodology. (1,372 words)

James: I am currently working as a support worker in a ‘day centre’ for homeless people in London. The main motive for throwing myself into the hospital discharge research project is a strong sense of righteous indignation at the way the people who use our service are routinely returned there by hospital staff who should know we have no accommodation – the clue is in our title!

One man has been delivered to our car park three times this year, on two occasions in a taxi, always clutching his transparent bag of medicines and still wearing his ward wristband. All we can do is get him to see our wonderful specialist nurse at the earliest opportunity (she can only fit us in one day a week) and use our best first-aiding to tend any wounds.

In the dark days I was myself discharged from hospital detox onto the street, which meant I couldn’t access even daytime rehabs, not having a secure address in what had been my local borough for more than five years. I was back in detox six months later. In the interim I was put out of the Emergency Investigation Unit of a well-known London hospital in pretty short order and with nowhere to go. Such experiences stick in the mind. Continue reading

Imagining the future – the social care workforce

Dr Martin StevensMartin Stevens is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at the Policy Institute at King’s. (1,593 words)

A new report from the Centre for Workforce Intelligence: Forecasting the Adult Social Care Workforce to 2035 was launched at an event on the 27 July. This report asks some key questions and offers some possible answers. What will social care look like in 2035? Who will be doing the work?  How many people will be needed to keep care and support services going? Social care seems to like such forecasts, a previous report by Skills for Care in 2011 estimated that the number of jobs in the adult social care sector would need to grow from around 1.6 million in 2010, to 2.8 million in 2025 in order to meet projected demand for social care support. Only last year the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (2015) forecasted a 33 per cent growth in demand by 2030. Continue reading

Gambling – a risky business?

Stephanie BramleyCaroline NorrieDr Stephanie Bramley (Research Associate, left) and Caroline Norrie (Research Fellow) of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s introduce their new study. (1335 words)

In May the Unit began working on a new project exploring gambling participation by adults at risk. Here we explain some of the background to this study and set out what we intend to focus on. We would be pleased to hear from people with an interest in this subject—either existing interest or new interest following this blog.

Gambling is a popular leisure activity in Britain. The Gambling Commission says that 45% of adults participated in gambling during the last 4 weeks. Playing the National Lottery is the most popular activity, followed by online gambling, scratchcards, other lotteries, horses, sports betting, online betting and private betting. Between October 2014 and September 2015 the British gambling industry generated a gross gambling yield of £12.6 billion (the amount retained by gambling operators after the payment of winnings, but before the deduction of the costs of the operation) (Gambling Commission, 2016) and in the 2015-16 tax year the tax revenue from betting and gaming reached £2.7 billion (HMRC, 2016). Continue reading