At the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics

Nicole SteilsNicole Steils is a Research Associate at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s College London. In September she presented findings of the UTOPIA (Using Telecare with Older People In Adult Social Care) study to colleagues at the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics, sections III and IV, conference in Fulda, Germany. (854 words)

This conference was held at Fulda University of Applied Sciences in Germany. The theme of the two-day conference was ‘Heterogeneity of Age(ing)’. Around 150 delegates attended.

Two keynote presentations started the academic content of the conference. Martina Brandt reported findings on intergenerational care and social policy in the European context based on data from the Survey of Health, Ageing & Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and how various care systems inform the growing social inequalities in giving and receiving care. As the UK was not part of the SHARE project, I was not able to directly learn about similarities and differences between the UK and other European countries. The second keynote was by Hürrem Tezcan-Güntekin who discussed research methods and findings from the German Age Survey, arguing that research in gerontology needs more ‘diversity sensitive’ approaches. Continue reading

Use of Assistive Technology and telecare in Germany – visiting the ‘independent living centre’ exhibition in Frankfurt am Main

Nicole SteilsNicole Steils is a Research Associate at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s College London. As part of the UTOPIA (Using Telecare with Older People In Adult Social Care) study, Nicole Steils travelled to Frankfurt am Main, Germany, to visit and explore the ‘independent living centre’ exhibition at Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. (637 words)

Once a month this exhibition is open to the public. An expert from the university and a representative from a disability aid federation guide people through the independent living centre and explain the different exhibits and installations. I was one of about 25 people who visited on the day. On other days the exhibition is used as part of the training of the 3,200 students from the Faculty of Health and Social Work as well as students from other health professional training programmes.

Covering 150 square meters (1,615 square feet) the exhibition consists of various products, designs and technological solutions aiming to support people to live in their own home and to aid mobility in and outside the home. The exhibition also shows examples of products aiming to assist family carers or paid staff. In addition, our two guides showed us some simple DIY solutions for sometimes very costly products on the open market. Continue reading

The Prato moment: thinking about leadership in social work education

Mary Baginsky, Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, introduces an invited post by Professor Charlotte Williams:

I was fortunate to have attended the second colloquium held at Monash University’s Prato centre. This is the second year that the group has come together to explore social work education. Prior to a more formal summary of proceeding, Professor Charlotte Williams, Professor and Deputy Dean of RMIT’s Social Work in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, reflects on the context and culture within which the discussions took place. In so doing she made me realise how much I miss the intensity of the discussions, the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and the time to talk and disagree.—Mary Baginsky

Professor Charlotte Williams writes:

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Professor Charlotte Williams

There’s a special magic about Prato that is so conducive to commune. The ambition of the Prato Group, a collaboration of Social Work educators, reflects many of the attributes of this ancient and vital textile producing city in which it was inaugurated. The Prato textile enterprise with its yarns, designs, collective and innovative technologies has approached its futures over an 800-year history with enormous creativity, energy and pragmatism in an effort to remain relevant, stable and future-oriented. Through epochs of profound social, economic, political and technological change the ability to anticipate, capture and engage judiciously with disruptive forces and to lead through change has meant a threatened industry thrived largely through the efforts of small and distributed artisans working with common purpose. Continue reading

Gambling Disorders in Women

Caroline NorrieStephanie BramleyStephanie Bramley (Research Associate, left) and Caroline Norrie (Research Fellow) from the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London report from a seminar about Gambling Disorders in Women, held in London on 12 September 2017. (1179 words)

A new book ‘Gambling Disorders in Women: An international female perspective on treatment and research’ was launched at a special seminar on 12 September in Parliament’s Portcullis House. The book aims to raise the profile of gambling disorders in women and also provide fellow professionals across the world with a shared understanding of evidence based treatment and recovery in problem gambling literature and research.

The seminar was organised by book editors Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones (Founder and Director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, London) and Dr Fulvia Prever (Psychologist and Psychotherapist working in the National Health System Addictions Clinic in Milan, Italy). It was sponsored by Gambling Integrity and hosted by Karen Buck MP. Continue reading

Personal budgets in Finland

John WoolhamJohn Woolham is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s. He recently returned from a trip to Helsinki where he discussed the English experience of implementing personal budgets. (1,141 words)

On 31 May of this year, the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s was asked to organise a seminar on the topic of Personal Budgets and Direct Payments for a group of social care practitioners, project managers, academics and civil servants from Finland. They were over here on a ‘fact-finding’ mission. The Finnish Government is proposing to introduce a form of Personal Budgets and Direct Payments in their social care and welfare services, and the group were here to find out what they could about how they had been, and were being, implemented in England. This was a very rapid tour round the landscape. In two hours, Professor Jill Manthorpe, Dr Martin Stevens, Dr Nicole Steils and I told them about the impact of personalisation, personal budgets and direct payments on social care providers, unpaid carers and older people as well as a rapid overview of the research evidence and key issues. Surviving half-baked but well-meaning attempts by me to add Finnish subtitles to my own slides using ‘Google translate’—just don’t, OK?—we even managed to squeeze in a short discussion with questions and answers. Amazingly, after such an intense burst of information sharing, we got some extremely interesting and thoughtful questions. Although Finland was, and remains, at an early stage in the process of transforming part of its welfare services, it was clear that a great deal of thinking was being devoted to how to do this smoothly, and without the ideological rigidity that has characterised some debates around the topic in this country. Continue reading

At the 9th Deafblind International European Conference

simcock, peterPeter Simcock is Senior Lecturer in Social Work (Adults) at Staffordshire University, and PhD Student, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. He reports from Touch of Closeness: The 9th Deafblind International European Conference, Aalborg. (621 words)

Having been inspired at the 16th Deafblind International (DbI) World Conference in Bucharest in 2015, I was delighted to present at the 9th Deafblind International European Conference, in the lovely city of Aalborg, at the beginning of September 2017. Linda Erikson, pedagogue at the National Resource Centre for Deafblindness in Sweden and herself deafblind, observes that the sense of touch is crucial for all deafblind people. It was therefore fitting that the Conference adopted ‘Touch of Closeness: Maintaining Social Connectedness’ as its theme. Continue reading

Exciting opportunity to be a global leader in dementia and brain health

NicoleBatschNicole Batsch is an Atlantic Fellow with the Global Brain Health Institute and completed her PhD at King’s College London, co-supervised in the Institute of Gerontology and the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. She can be reached at nicole.batsch@gbhi.org. (704 words)

While I was writing my PhD I craved the opportunity to discuss and debate the state of the dementia field, where it’s been and where it’s going and the often competing priorities of stakeholders including people living with dementia, families, health care professionals, researchers, policy makers and the charity sector. What I learned was that a PhD was often a long, lonely slog with only the warm glow from my computer screen to keep me company.

But for the past nine months, I’ve finally had that opportunity to discuss and debate and I’ve gotten to experience it in a multi-disciplinary setting to better understand the perspectives of other disciplines different to my own. Continue reading

Families and children’s services: international perspectives

Dr Mary BaginskyMary Baginsky is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London. (565 words)

Early in September I had the privilege of attending the International Conference on New Perspectives for Outcome-Based Evaluation and Research on Families and Children’s Services’. It was held at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and emerged from a collaboration between the University, the International Association for Outcome-based Evaluation and Research on Family and Children’s services (iaOBERfcs) and the Zancan Foundation, based in Padua, Italy. It brought together over 150 participants from 14 countries. The conference opened with children and young people performing traditional Chinese drumming and dragon dances and was followed by opening addresses and presentations. As interesting as the latter were, I was still contemplating how the girls at the back of the dragons had danced for 15 minutes while bent at an angle of 90 degrees. Continue reading

Finding unity in diversity within China’s long-term care system

csm_Maags_pic_f1915bd14eChristina Maags is a Lecturer in Chinese Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, specializing in the politics of demographic change in China. (1,278 words)

Preparing for the growing ageing population is a huge cause for celebration and yet also a key concern in many countries. Yet, in developing countries, which are experiencing a greater speed of population ageing at a time when they are lacking the financial resources and institutions to provide long-term care (LTC) services, finding policy solutions is becoming ever more urgent.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is facing these challenges while the decades of one-child policy are exacerbating these trends, as fewer and fewer younger people are left to provide care to their older relatives. Although in China, as in other East Asian countries, the cultural norm of filial piety has been strong, the stark decline in fertility translates into one younger person, mostly female, sometimes having to care for four to eight older relatives or in-laws. In 2016, 213 million, or 16.7% of the Chinese population, were over 60 years old (Cheng, 2017). Among these older people almost 150 million have long-term health conditions, and more than 40 million are living with deteriorating mental or physical health. As an editorial in The Lancet argues, China’s population ageing is ‘a ticking bomb’ (The Lancet, 2016). Continue reading

Safeguarding Diogenes

James Fuller is a Peer Researcher, Expert by Experience and a Support Worker at a Day Centre for people who are homeless in London. (1,200 words)

Brighton and Hove Safeguarding Adults Board recently published the key messages arising from a review. A Safeguarding Adults Review is held when an adult in the local authority areas dies as a result of abuse or neglect. In this case, the adult was sleeping rough and had been identified as ‘difficult to engage’. Chris Scanlon and John Adlam have written extensively about Diogenes, homelessness and what to do about people whose refusal to be included remains a problem for themselves and society as a whole. This review brought into sharp focus some of these same issues. Namely how can we safeguard Diogenes? According to the essayist Plutarch, the philosopher Diogenes the Cynic (412-323BC) lived in a barrel in Corinth and spent his time pouring vitriol on his fellow beings, who he roundly despised. One day, Alexander the Great invited Diogenes to a gathering, but the drum-dweller declined. Instead of having Diogenes executed, the usual outcome for disrespecting world conquerors, Alexander went down to see him.  Having greeted Diogenes, Alexander asked him if he wanted anything. Diogenes replied: “Yes, stand a little out of my sunshine” (Plutarch, Alexander, 14 Cf.). Continue reading