Representing the community

Care Images had an interesting time at the Picture Buyers Fair at the Barbican Exhibition Halls last week. It’s always good to meet current clients and potential new ones, and as in many of these events, meeting unexpected leads over coffee. And yes, it is always good to meet photographers who wish to work with us so thanks to all who visited us.

Peter in his wheelchair
One of our models, Peter: every picture tells a story
One point of discussion that was well aired involved the types of models we work with. When we launched Care Images we set out to provide realistic UK-based images of social care and according to feedback at PBF and through the site, we are doing particularly well in this area. Time and again we hear comments like xyz library’s models are ‘American looking’ and that the older women featured look ‘too well and happy’. Our clients like the realism of our images, the way they reflect social care in the UK as experienced by service users, their carers and practitioners. In short, as our strapline says, they represent the community, a community made up of a myriad of ethnicities, cultures, lifestyles and life choices. And a community of images that is growing in size and stature thanks to our photographers models and clients.

Perhaps the most pleasing part of our job is being able to meet demand as it comes; so when a local authority phones us and asks for pictures of the travelling community for a brochure, we are able to publish such pictures within three days. We have a talented group of photographers and a raft of models we can call on, so please do get in touch if you have ideas for a shoot. And if you want to be part of this really interesting and fulfilling project as a photographer and or model, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Which are the kindest cuts of all?

Election fever has turned into a right old mess. Irrespective of what happens with the Clegg-Cameron-(Brown) negotiations it’s safe to assume we are in for a spot of belt-tightening and that means that crucial services to the most vulnerable could be compromised. It may not be at Greek proportions but with a deficit running into billions, there is clearly going to be some serious cutting.

Food for thought: Prepare for some serious belt-tightening
And when this happens it will be interesting to see how local and health authorities – the providers of most of our services – decide how to ration. Having worked in social work for 15 years, I know how important the contributions are from everyone involved in social care; from the person enabling a disabled person to use a toilet in his or her own home, to child protection social worker to the director of social services. Every member of staff, whatever their status or salary, is crucial to ensuring the delivery of seamless and effective services (despite what the red-top press would have us believe).

So if you had to slash x million off a budget, what would you choose to go? There is no fairness or justice in such decisions. Is it fairer that the day centre for elderly people is closed in favour of an early years facility? Should adults with disabilities sponsored in a relatively expensive but excellent residential unit out of borough be recalled to an adequate, cheaper provision in the locality? What about ‘soft’ targets like training; would it really matter if an authority did not invest so much money on sending its staff to courses?

The answer, of course, is that everything is important in health, education and social care. But the truth is this; since no politician is prepared to risk playing around with tax and missiles (the default ‘no-go’ areas for discussion) we are never going to be able to afford the services we provide and we will always be playing financial catch-up to keep them going. I don’t envy the political combo that is taking over, whatever the colour of their rosettes.

Where’s daddy? He’s gone to heaven

Last week I was at the launch of a much needed information book which deserves as much publicity as possible. Imagine having to cope with this scenario at the age of 70; You and your wife have the unenviable task of telling a seven-year-old granddaughter and later on her two-year-old brother that their father had murdered their mother. Or having to fly to the USA to tell a four year old that his dad (your son) is in Heaven having died in a car crash.

Breaking the news: the scene recreated by Careimages models.
Grandparents caring for young children are being offered much needed advice on how to break difficult news and information to their grandchildren. The Grandparents’ Association have launched a guidance booklet called ‘Giving Difficult Messages to Children’, which is the result of an in-depth discussion with health and social workers and grandparents who need to communicate sensitive messages to grandchildren. Areas covered by the 16-page publication include what to say, when to say it and how much detail to go into. The booklet also covers bereavement, ill health, neglect and abuse within the family and draws on a number of studies, including one which shows that older children can appreciate more information than younger children. And such is the importance of the message that professionals, grandparents and children will benefit from its clear and concise approach to what is becoming a more common issue in our society.

Childhood is not all about good news and children are entitled to honesty from adults. From working with the Grandparents Association over a number of years, the overriding feeling is one of admiration for the grandparents who may well have been looking forward to afternoons of bridge and Scrabble and instead are thrust into school runs and standing on football pitch touchlines cheering grandson and daughter on.

‘Giving Difficult Messages to Children’ is available priced £5.99 (or £4.99 for members of The Grandparents’ Association). To order a copy please call 01279 428040 or visit