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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

Adass spring seminar: four things you need to know

Date: 12/5/2015
Summary: Social care leaders gathered in Staffordshire last week for the annual spring seminar of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass). Here are some of the key points from the conference.

The media were allowed in …

… for the first time, but the timing of the seminar in the pre-election “purdah” period meant there were strict limitations on reporting and tweeting from certain speeches. While this put a dampener on some of the conversations taking place, allowing the media to be present at all seems to be a sign that Adass is keen to have more of a voice and an impact than it has in the past. The association’s annual budget survey will be coming out in a couple of months’ time, and it’s likely that there will be some strong messages and a desire to have an impact on the next government’s policy and spending review.


Movement on deprivation of liberty safeguards

Dols [Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards] are starting to be used not as a protective device but as a supplement to the Mental Health Act for the purpose of compulsion,” said Judge Eldergill of the court of protection in a session on deprivation of liberty safeguards. Dols are an amendment to the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, designed to provide independent scrutiny on whether someone in a care home or hospital, who lacks the capacity to consent to their care arrangements, is being deprived of their liberty, and, if so, whether this is in their best interest. However, they have been criticised by many, including the House of Lords, which called for replacement legislation. And in last year’s landmark ruling by the supreme court in the case of Cheshire West, the threshold for which cases should be assessed under Dols was effectively lowered, causing a huge rise in referrals for local authorities to cope with.

The Law Commission has been charged with the task of writing legislation that will replace Dols. Nicholas Paines QC of the commission said that this will be a single system which works across the whole field of deprivation of liberty, and cover other care arrangements than just hospitals and care homes. Paines revealed that there will be a public consultation on some provisional proposals that may replace Dols. This will run from July to October – but a bill is not likely to be produced until 2017. This, Paines said, is as soon as the legislation can be developed, but it means that local authorities and social workers will be dealing with Dols referrals for some time yet.


Advice from the media

In a panel session on the media view of adult social care, three journalists from different organisations (Carolyn Atkinson from Radio 4’s You and Yours, Ruth Smith, editor of Community Care, and the Guardian’s David Brindle) talked about the need for social care to open up more to the media. Brindle argued that social care needs to get over its reluctance to tell its story in human terms, rather than through a policy perspective; it is when you tell a story through the user of services, he said, that it is most effective and reaches out to the audience. He challenged the sector to take more risks in its dealings with the media, and said that social care needs to stop behaving like the back end of the health-and-care pantomime horse (for which he later won quote of the week from Adass vice-president Harold Bodmer).


Service user contributions

The best speeches and most powerful contributions came from service users and carers talking about their experience of social care. In a powerful and emotional session on transforming care in the wake of Winterbourne View, David and Jill Jack told the story of their son James, who became learning disabled after an operation to remove a brain tumour when he was five. Their account of the failure of services to co-ordinate, and the abuse and neglect he suffered and the impact it had on him, put the importance of integration into context and had a clear effect on everyone in the room.

Tina Coldham, a mental health service user and a Scie trustee, gave a service user’s perspective on austerity. She argued that co-production is about equality: “It starts from the idea that no group or person is more important than anyone else.” She urged directors to get out of their “ivory towers” and engage with people using services. And she criticised the unnecessary language often used in social care, such as the naming of pilots as “pioneers” or “vanguards”, uttering the immortal line: “Jeez, we’re trying to get people up in the morning, not cross the north west passage”

Source The Guardian

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