Thursday, 8 July 2010

In search of the Holy Grail

I love the Guardian. For coverage of social policy, particularly social care it really is second to none.

I've just read another interesting article on Individual Budgets. It is over a year since I left front-line work behind yet the debate still rages and with even more intensity since the change in government and a chance in fiscal policy from prudence to pruning; or hack and slash depending on your political view-point.

The article takes the arguement far deeper into new territory. IB's should, it suggests be rolled out as a new model to replace the out-moded structures of the post-war welfare state. An interesting point, but one with which I disagree. As one commentor, anenome 6, points out we have come a long way from the kind of welfare state set up in 1945 and to suggest otherwise is a crude mis-representation.

I won't go over old ground here. My comment on the article was to once again harp on about the need to think about equality when it comes to IB's, something which always seems to be missing from the debate. In our rush to tinker with systems we need to keep sight of our core principles such as equality and fairness and make these more central to our judgements...

Anyway, perhaps the most telling part of the article comes in the final paragraph:

In future, the world might be different if Alan, Jane, Dave and others like them could get a single assessment of their needs,

Hasn't the single assessment process been a term bandied about in Social Care for a number of years? I certainly remember my department possessing glossy leaflets promoting it. One single multi-professional assessment so people didn't have to tell their stories again and again.

This was certainly the aim, but the messy reality was that some people would need to tell their story firstly to an untrained call-centre operator, then another unqualified member of staff carrying out a 'screening' assessment over the phone before a centrally based care manager would visit and assess and if not in immediate crisis a person would then be assessed again later by a locality team care manager. Single assessment it was not(and I am actually simplifying things here by leaving out Physio and Occupational Therapy assessments!)

So the single assessment process was, despite the leaflets proclaiming it a reality, as fictional as a chart of Soviet grain yeilds. Merely a half-harted quest for the unobtainable.

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