Saturday, May 14, 2011

Carers concessionary rate and misue

Cheap Bath and West Show tickets for carers scrapped


Cheap tickets for carers of disabled people visiting the Royal Bath and West Show have been scrapped.

In previous years, disabled visitors have been able to buy one ticket and receive another discounted for a carer.

The move has been criticised by Somerset charity Compass Disability Services which said it would prevent many disabled people attending.

A show spokesman said: "Regrettably, the carers concessionary rate has had to be withdrawn because of misuse."

The charity's chief executive officer, Richard Pitman, said: "We are disappointed that the Bath and West Show organisers have introduced this policy that may prevent many disabled people from attending the show.

"In my experience, it's normal practice for organisers of an event to provide concessions for disabled people who are unable to access all facilities at the show or unable to attend without the assistance of a carer.

"We hope this means that all areas of the Bath and West Show will be fully accessible to disabled people".

The show's website states: "We provide excellent services to ensure all areas of the showground are accessible. All avenues have hard surfaces and all buildings, toilets and shower facilities can be accessed with ease, making your day out with us an enjoyable experience.

"Lift access is provided to the top floor of the Showering Pavilion and also to the Bath and West Restaurant."

This year's agricultural show will take place from 1 to 4 June.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

England's North-South adult social care divide

The following article is from the BBC web site , how call me cynical or what BUT yet again are we seeing the use of the dreaded NORTH-SOUTH Divide as a why of splitting service users and carers into two fractions arguing more between them selfs and maybe not addressing the question of how do we get a fair and equitable system for the whole of England ? you decide dear readers :

England's North-South adult social care divide

There is a North-South divide in spending on social care in England following the government's Spending Review, BBC research suggests.

The Council Spending: Making it Clear survey looked at planned expenditure of 76% of councils in England.

Adult social care spending will fall by an estimated 4.7% to £3.4bn in the North in 2011/12 and rise by 2.7% to £3.33bn in the South.

But some councils said the figures were "skewed" by grant allocation changes.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said "protecting and improving social care services is vital".

The government accepted that reform of the system was needed, he said, adding that an independent Commission was currently considering "how we can ensure affordable and sustainable funding for care and support for all adults in England in the future".

A total of 268 out of 353 councils replied to questions about their budgets.

Of the 151 councils in England responsible for social care, 73 responded to the BBC survey. Forty-one of these were in the North and 32 in the South of England.

Overall, social care budgets of the councils surveyed are set to be cut by about 2.6%, from £9.79bn to £9.54bn in the current financial year, compared to 2010/11. Some adult services have been incorporated into housing and leisure plans in some areas.
'Very difficult'

Social care funding for children is also being cut across England, although in the South the cuts are half as deep.

The survey suggests 41 councils in North were reducing child social care funding by an estimated 7.4%, from £1.55bn to £1.43bn; while in in the South councils were cutting funding by an estimated 3.5%, from £1.30bn to £1.25bn.

The research, carried out with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), mapped local authority spending on services following the Spending Review. The review last October cut local authority funding by 7.1%.

Social care is one of the largest costs for councils and last year it came second only to education.

Durham County Council is among those seeing the biggest cuts to social care, with a planned 18.1% reduction in 2011/12.

The Labour-run council, which has to cut £125m from its budget over four years, plans to spend £192.7m on social care this financial year, compared to £235.5m last year.

Savings have been achieved by the closure of seven council care homes for older people and shops selling disability aids.

The council will also review its carers' service and learning disability respite care service.

Nick Whitton, head of commissioning for adult services, said: "We are having to make some very difficult decisions following the Comprehensive Spending Review and unfortunately, all areas of the council's work, including social care services, will be affected in some way."

Eighty-five councils did not respond to the survey, including large authorities, such as Birmingham and Manchester.

Age UK said it was very concerned by cuts which affected society's "most vulnerable" people.

Elizabeth Feltoe, care services policy adviser, said the cuts had led most councils to revise their eligibility criteria and put greater financial pressure on service providers.

"It's a double whammy because if people are 'lucky enough' to receive services, they could be charged a significant amount of money for them," she said.

She said all services, such as care homes and domestic help, had been "squeezed".

"A slice of care has been taken from every single service so that you are only left with the bare bones," she said.

Ms Feltoe added there was a "huge disparity" in what councils charged people for social care across England.

The government allocated an extra £2bn a year by 2014-15 for social care services as part of its Spending Review.

However, Ms Feltoe said the money was not ring-fenced so it was difficult to trace whether councils had spent the money on care, making the funding issue particularly "complex".

Poole Borough Council, which has no overall control, said it had increased funding on adult social care by about £1m this year to £38.54m.

Jan Thurgood, the council's strategic director, said: "In common with many areas of the South West, Poole is seeing an increase in need for adult social care services both due to increases in the number of older people and the number of adults with complex disabilities.

"In its financial strategy the council has found efficiency savings in order to direct more money to front line care services."

Sandwell Council, in the West Midlands, was also among councils set to increase social care spending in 2011/12, according to the survey.

However, the Labour-controlled council, which will increase spending by 9.3% to £149m, said it was because the government had transferred some functions and funds from the NHS to councils.

CIPFA said the figures were an important early snapshot of budget changes. It said it was satisfied the BBC's survey method and checking process was sound and consistent, although all estimates might be subject to change as councils sought to deliver the best possible services.

Ian Carruthers, CIPFA's policy and technical director, said: "This survey provides the first overview of levels of council expenditure.

"In light of the spending cuts, balancing council budgets has been incredibly tough for finance directors and no individual council service is exempt from the pressure to make cuts.

"Councils are clearly trying to meet the needs of their communities but people will have to get used to receiving less from their local council."

The minister Mr Burstow said: "The Government is putting an extra £2bn into social care by 2014 to encourage the NHS and adult social care to work together and protect the most vulnerable in society.

"Some councils are making changes like sharing back office services, and caring for people in their own homes instead of expensive residential care. By making these types of changes councils can protect frontline services.

"We know reform of the system is needed. That is why we established an independent Commission to consider how we can ensure affordable and sustainable funding for care and support for all adults in England into the future.

"The Commission will report to us in July and we will set out our plans for further reform in a White Paper later this year."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Flagship scheme may fail disabled job seekers, warn MPs - 5/9/2011 - Community Care

Flagship scheme may fail disabled job seekers, warn MPs - 5/9/2011 - Community Care

Mental illness 'top reason to claim incapacity benefit

The following article is from the BBC web page , The fact that Mental Illness is now the major reason for people claiming incapacity benefit really should not come as a shock , after all was this not the case in the last major economic downturn in the UK ?

9 May 2011 Last updated at 00:57
Mental illness 'top reason to claim incapacity benefit'

Mental health problems have overtaken musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain as the main reason for incapacity benefit claims, researchers have said.

Experts, writing in Occupational Medicine, looked at new benefit awards for both kinds of conditions in Britain from 1997 to 2007.

Claims for musculoskeletal disorders fell by 50% over the 11-year study, while mental health claims were steady.

Social views of illness might explain the change, the team said.

There are 2.6m people of working age in the UK currently claiming incapacity benefit.

The ratio of new claims for mental illness to those for musculoskeletal disorders more than doubled between 1997 and 2007, Department for Work and Pensions data showed.

Mental illness claims remained at around a quarter of a million while musculoskeletal disorders fell from 181,820 in 1997 to 84,420 in 2007.

The change occurred across the country, but the difference was more significant in north-east England and Scotland than in the South East.
People's beliefs

The researchers say such large changes cannot be explained by changes in working practices linked to musculoskeletal problems, and that there were no changes in the criteria used to assess claims.

Instead, David Coggon, Medical Research Council professor of occupational medicine at Southampton General Hospital who led the study, suggested it may be to do with people's beliefs and expectations.

The pattern seen during the period of the study runs contrary to that seen between 1950 and 1990, when the number of IB claims for back pain increased eightfold.

However, during that time there was a widespread belief that back pain could be long-term and could seriously incapacitate people.

Now, people are aware that if they strain a muscle they can be better in a few weeks, Professor Coggon said.

He added: "In a particular country, or in a particular occupational group, at a particular time, there will be certain illnesses that everyone knows you can get.

"I'm not saying people aren't ill or disabled. But there are complex causes."

Professor Coggon suggested one way to tackle the level of mental health claims would be to change the approach to stress in the workplace.

"If you say you're trying to tackle hazards linked to workplace stress, it sends a message that people are exposed to 'bad things' and that affects reactions."

He said it was better to stress positive approaches, such as the introduction of good management and not overloading people with work.

Dr Olivia Carlton, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, said: "A life on incapacity benefit means that many people lose their sense of self worth, identity and esteem and also places a huge financial burden on the country."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The brain and social status

I came across this rather interesting little article on the BBC news site , its a little off my normal track of posts but well worth a read , Enjoy :)


Our brains react differently to others depending on how we view their social status, researchers say.

The Current Biology study found those who see themselves as being of a high status display more brain activity with those they think are equally elevated.

The researchers said behaviour was determined by how people saw those around them.

A British expert said first evaluations were crucial in determining how individuals related to each other.

It was already known from other studies that monkeys behave this way; changing behaviour dependent on how they perceived the other animal's position in the troop.

The 23 participants, who had varying levels of social status, were shown information about someone of higher status and information about someone of lower status.

The team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure activity in the ventral striatum, part of the brain's reward system.

People who viewed themselves as having a higher subjective socioeconomic status displayed greater brain activity in response to other high-ranked individuals, while those with lower status have a greater response to other low-status individuals.
First evaluations

Dr Caroline Zink, of the US National Institute of Mental Health, who led the study, said: "The way we interact with and behave around other people is often determined by their social status relative to our own, and therefore information regarding social status is very valuable to us.

"Interestingly, the value we assign to information about someone's particular status seems to depend on our own.

She added that socioeconomic status is not based solely on money, but can also include factors such as accomplishments and habits.

Dr Jane McCartney, a London-based chartered psychologist and a member of the British Psychological Society, said: "First evaluations are terribly important to everyone, whether it's to do with status, looks or money.

"It's about deciding if this person is of the same status, and what one needs to do ensure they know you are of an equal status and evaluating what role they may play in your life."

She added: "I should think there'll be an awful lot of evaluating going on at Westminster Abbey on Friday