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

Managing dementia where there is challenging behaviour

Esme Moniz-Cook and Jill Manthorpe summarise the findings from a study on the management of dementia. (609 words)

  • Help for family carers supporting people with dementia who are distressed is much needed but services struggle to provide effective responses
  • Both families and care home staff need more support to help them to care for people with dementia – especially when the ‘going gets tough’

Bookshelf_NBK447072-page-001The findings from a large research study on the Management of Dementia with clinically significant challenging behaviour at home and in care homes led by the University of Hull and Humber NHS FT are published today (11 August 2017). The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR). The study examined the records of over 5,300 older people and their families who were referred for specialist help to NHS mental health services across England. Nearly two thirds (61%) of those with dementia and distressing behaviour had a mild dementia rather than severe dementia. Practitioners did not always recognise that people at this stage were experiencing problems such as agitation, aggression and distress; and over a six month period, they did not manage to reduce the difficulties faced by these families. Families bore most of the care costs, and many were untouched by the evidence, guidelines and scope that services should provide them with timely individually-tailored effective responses to their challenging circumstances. Continue reading

Who wants to be an Approved Mental Health Professional?

Stephen MartineauAs the Unit embarks on a new piece of Department of Health commissioned research examining the role of the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP), Stephen Martineau and colleagues report from the AMHP Leads Network conference, held in London last week (10 July), and map out some of the background to the study. (977 words)

AMHPs carry out a variety of tasks when it comes to the use of compulsion under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA). Chief among these is coordinating the assessment under the MHA of individuals whose mental disorder is such that it fulfils the statutory criteria; the application for a formal admission to a hospital must be ‘founded’ on medical recommendation, as the pink form for a detention under the MHA has it, but the AMHP takes the decision.[1]

Form A2 Section 2 appl by AMHP for admiss for assess-page-001

Form A2. Section 2 MHA: application by an approved mental health professional for admission for assessment (photo links to pdf)

Of course, this is only the very barest description of what is involved in the job: last week, someone who had been the subject of a MHA assessment by an AMHP wrote vividly of the experience in Community Care. Elsewhere, the Masked AMHP has asked, and answered, the question: What is an AMHP?

In making a MHA assessment of a person, AMHPs bring to bear a ‘social perspective’. And it is social workers—initially under the MHA, Approved Social Workers (ASWs)—who have been historically associated with the role. But in 2008 ASWs became AMHPs, and with the change in designation came a loosening of the ties to the social work profession: it was now also possible for certain kinds of nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists to take up the role. Continue reading

Researching in care homes – what was learnt from a study of handovers?

Caroline NorrieCaroline Norrie is Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London (330 words)

What can researchers of care services learn from our recent handover study?  We asked ourselves this question and discussed this at the annual conference of the British Society of Gerontology held in Swansea last week (pictured below is the new beach side campus) at the start of July. Our paper summarised the findings of our unique exploration into handovers in care homes and then we paused to ask what could be relevant to other researchers studying care home practice and systems. Continue reading

Notes from the inaugural conference of the Italian Society of Social Work Research

Gaia CetranoGaia Cetrano is a Research Associate at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. (1,100 words)

In May this year I was proud to take part in the first conference organized by the new Italian Society of Social Work Research (SOCISS) in Turin, Italy.

The origins of SOCISS date back to 1983 when a group of teachers of social work founded the Italian Association of Teachers of Social Work (AIDOSS). AIDOSS assiduously worked over 30 years to develop common thinking on theories of social work, as well as on the organization of university curricula, and the role of training and research. Then what happened? The Association committee reunited in 2016 and approved a new constitution outlining its new objectives, which included strengthening the dialogue between theory and practice in social work and promoting social work research in Italy and internationally. I think it is very important that the status of the association has now changed to that of a scientific society as this will hopefully help professionals, researchers and academics to acquire a stronger voice and also be in a better position to communicate and negotiate with other disciplines. Continue reading