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

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

Social care, the market and the prospects for a National Care Service

John WoolhamJohn Woolham is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. (524 words)

Professor Guy Daly, Executive Dean of the Health and Life Sciences Faculty at Coventry University, Bleddyn Davies, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the Personal Social Services Research Unit and I spoke at a Research in Specialist and Elderly Care (RESEC) seminar on 10 March at the House of Lords. RESEC is a national charity whose principal aim is to promote research and teaching in social care by identifying priorities for funding and teaching and securing funds to invest in these priorities. It provides finance for agreed projects and ensures findings and outcomes are publically disseminated. Continue reading

What are the prospects for using telecare for older people?

John WoolhamJohn Woolham is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. (500 words)

On 9 March, I spoke in a webinar lecture for Oxford Academic Health Science Network. This network brings together universities, industry and the NHS throughout the Thames Valley region to improve health and prosperity in our region through rapid clinical innovation adoption. One strand of this network is devoted to a dementia clinical network and I was invited to speak by Dr Rupert McShane, a Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist at Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, who leads this network. Continue reading

Where next for integration and funding?

John Woolham

John Woolham

Martin Stevens

Martin Stevens

It is estimated that the NHS faces a shortfall of at least £30 billion a year within a decade and possibly a deficit as high as £50 billion. Martin Stevens of King’s and John Woolham of Coventry University report on an event last month where experts debated funding and integration in health and social care. (1,369 words)

At a SSRG-SSCR event on Integration and Funding of Health and Social Care held at the LSE on 18 June José-Luis Fernandez of LSE opened with a statistical review of the decline of social care service provision since the 1980s, which had become especially marked since 2008-09 with the contraction in public spending—despite increases in the numbers of older people over this period. While this could in small part be due to better targeting and more effective services, his conclusion was that there was a great deal of unmet need in the community. Continue reading