Social care is not an intractable problem

John Burton has been working in and with social care, mostly residential care, since the mid-1960s. He has worked at all levels with all client groups and ages, and is currently consulting to therapeutic children’s homes. His most recent book is Leading Good Care (JKP 2015) and he is now writing a new book on children’s homes. Readers may also be interested in his What’s wrong with CQC? published by The Centre for Welfare Reform. (1003 words)

When designing anything it’s crucial to understand what its purpose is. When redesigning something that isn’t working as well as it should, we must study the operation of what currently exists to identify how it falls short of its purpose. To study effectively, we must get to know it in detail from the inside, look at it as a whole and make no assumptions.

So it is with what we call social care. We start and end life dependent on others, but in between the beginning and end we remain dependent to a greater or lesser extent. We are social beings and we are never fully independent. When we need more support than our family, friends and neighbours can give, we require an organised system of support which will include paid people and is likely to include supplies, buildings, equipment etc. We all need and give support, some more than others and at different times. It’s simply part of being human. Continue reading

“Not good enough, CQC”

John Burton, a social care consultant and writer, gives his personal response to the recent Safeguarding Adults Review on Mendip House. John is the author of Leading Good Care, JKP, 2015 and What’s wrong with CQC?, Centre for Welfare Reform, 2017. (973 words)

I’ve been reading the safeguarding review of Mendip House, a care home for adults with autism in Somerset. (Safeguarding Adults Review. Mendip House by Margaret Flynn, January 2018.) The home was owned and managed by The National Autistic Society (NAS), regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the residents were placed there by local authority commissioners from all over the UK but none from Somerset itself.

Mendip House has been described as “Winterbourne View without the cameras”: a thuggish gang of staff assaulted, taunted, and stole from the residents; managers were weak and complicit. Whistleblowers told the CQC and the senior management of The NAS, but—as at Winterbourne View—they were repeatedly ignored or fobbed off. The NAS made ineffectual internal investigations but did not alert the CQC or the local safeguarding service as they should have done. The placing authorities failed to monitor the care, safety and welfare of their residents, or whether the high fees were value for money. Whistleblowers left while the perpetrators of the abuse were ticked off but remained in post. In other words, no one did their job properly or considered the residents who remained at the mercy of a horrible regime. Continue reading

Just do it!

John Burton John Burton has worked in social care since 1965 as a practitioner at all levels. His book, Leading Good Care, is just out from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (1,342 words)

In Leading Good Care, I set out and recommend a positive and hopeful vision of social care. My subtitle—the task, heart and art of managing social care—is both realistic and idealistic. The task requires serious, disciplined, hands-on, and hard work. The heart signifies that this work is emotional and personal, and that care is a human relationship. And the art of managing care engages your skills, your imagination, your culture and creativity. Continue reading