Why social work needs to get PRoactive

I enjoyed reading this article;
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6122296.ece
Anything coming from the keyboards of journalists working for the UK’s most revered newspaper must surely be worth listening to; or should they? If you read the comments below the link you will see that all is not as the writer suggests. And you can be sure that following the recent media witch hunt against care as a profession that next in line for ridicule are social workers.

At social gatherings I have heard it said many times that social workers spend all day reading the Guardian, or get paid for poking their noses into people’s lives and we could easily manage without them. Weknow the reality, but the point is this, does the general public? One of the biggest problems social work has is getting the right message across to people who have negative views about the profession.

The answer to this problem of course is to take the doubters on at their own game by a rigorous PR and media campaign and getting the likes of the ubiquitous Max Clifford on board. As it stands, social work is like a boxer who keeps getting up after a nine-count for another dose of pummeling from the blue corner. I don’t care how laddish, thuggish or insensitive a white van man is; you take him on the beat with a social worker dealing with a daily dose of child protection and that will be enough to sway his views.

Elaine from London sums up the above link very well in her comment: “I am a voluntary breastfeeding peer counselor. The woman that coordinates the breastfeeding peer support in our area does magnificent & valued work in a very difficult job.” If one wanted to be cynical, one could argue how valuable to society are the writers of the tosh in the Times. But I’m no cynic.

The big bucks should stop here

Care assistant comforting elderly womanWatching Panorama’s expose of home care in the UK Britain’s Homecare Scandal I was not so much shocked as angry. It is hardly news that domicilliary home care providers are seemingly putting profits before people. Given that the raison d’etre of such companies is to make money (the city Hooray Henry with his red braces adhered to the bounties to be made in providing care) it is surely up to the local governments awarding these massive contracts to do something about the disgraceful standards to which some of these companies stoop. If I was paying around £2m for a service I would want to make sure I was getting bloody good value for money.

Of course, those on the shop floor earning the minimum wage plus a few pennies are not the cause of service users missing food, baths and medications; they are doing their best to manage in impossible situations. And it’s all well and good one director of social services telling the programme that they will not be renwing Care UK’s lucrative contract but the question was left hanging as to why she had not terminated the contract with the company immediately.

I think we should take a long hard look at whether private companies are actually able to meet the demands of caring for thousands of people following an on-line tendering process that resembled the Black Jack table at MGM Las Vegas. When I was a social worker these services were provided by LAs and yes, they were inefficiently run and staff were unionised and paid more but you know what, I never heard of vulnerable old people being left to rot in their own faeces.

Think about it; companies whose sole motivation is to make profits (and some of these companies also have a motivation to keep shareholders sweet) have little interest in providing the basic minimum to keep the inspectors happy. Are such companies really fit for such an important purpose of looking after our loved ones?

Summit up in one word – confusion

I’m starting with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi which sums up my feelings:
“We cannot leave it to our leaders. We must also act together to build a just world.”

President Obama pulls a faceWith this historic quote by the godfather of ‘direct action’, blogger Rajiv Joshi started his contribution for G20Voice, an alternative community made up of 50 of the world’s most interesting bloggers who set up network at the G20 Summit at the Excel Centre.They come from 22 different countries, and between them represent a golbal audience of over 14 million readers and online participants. They were joined by representatives of all the major British NGOs.

Here is the view from John Hilary, the director of War on Want: “World leaders have responded by trying to preserve the system that is responsible for the crisis. Governments have been happy to bail out the bankers with hundreds of billions in public money, yet the poorest have received no help in their struggle to make ends meet. Worse still, with its refusal to accept anything but ‘light touch’ regulation of financial capital, the UK government has become the biggest obstacle to progress.

“Gordon Brown and other G20 leaders are throwing money at the global economic crisis rather than addressing its root causes. The London summit has been used to resurrect the failed policies and institutions of the free market era, in a deal which prioritises short-term action at the expense of fundamental reform.

“War on Want believes a stimulus package for the developing world is desperately needed. But the G20 decision to treble money available to the International Monetary Fund will resurrect an institution which lacks legitimacy.”

Barack Obama was adamant that the summit has tackled the main ussues that needed redressing, namely, accountability of the world banking system and trade imbalance. By agreeing on an economic stimulus package, he hoped that the recession will ‘bottom-up’ and come to an end in the next few months. That remains to be seen.