Category: CT blog


Shuffling to some purpose – or just fancy footwork?

Posted on January 15th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. No Comments

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

Spare a thought if you will for the hard pressed people who have to update government information. Well into 2018, for example, the Department of Health website still had a section starting, “From 2016 to 2017 our priorities will be …”. Just keeping abreast of changes to the names of ministries is challenging. DoH, which became DH a few years ago, is now DHSC, the cabinet reshuffle having added social care to its responsibilities.

Actually that’s not quite true since the Department has long had a minister with ‘care’ in their title. There has been an issue over whether the role has Minister of State status, one grade below the Secretary of State who heads the whole show, or is held at the lower tier of Under Secretary. In 2016 it dropped to the junior level and that … Read More »


Life support for the NHS

Posted on January 8th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 3 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

To outline a comprehensive remedy for the ongoing and worsening woes of the beleaguered NHS would take a little more space than this blog permits; suffice it to say that the NHS needs to be properly funded, along with a major structural and operational overhaul.

A Royal Commission has been suggested. The problem is that Royal Commissions (or ‘purple papers’ as I like to think of them) need to be carefully managed to come up with the answers that a government wants to hear, and management isn’t one of this government’s strong suits, and I’m not sure that it has any desired answers in mind anyway.

I will say this: given that GP services, along with contracted suppliers, are all private concerns, perhaps we need to contemplate a greater role for the private sector in the delivery of … Read More »


A flight of festive fancy

Posted on December 18th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Christmas Past: It’s cold outside but inside the care home the star atop the tree beams its rays of hope onto the faces of residents, families and staff, all radiant with inner human warmth. Pressed into service as a Santa, the handyman’s ‘ho-ho-hos’ are perhaps not quite what they might be but his eyes twinkle nevertheless as he delves into his sack and produces a gift for everyone. The radio carol service recalls to the residents the many past Christmases they have celebrated.

Christmas Present: The trees’ lights, leaking in to the manager’s office show her face creased in concentration as she catches-up with the paperwork. The team of inspectors has recently departed, leaving the staff dispirited and behind in their work. “Will The Cedars celebrate another Christmas?” they wonder; there have been rumours that it will … Read More »


Some failures are inevitable

Posted on December 11th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

There’s a lot of speculation as to the near-term future of Four Seasons Health Care: as to if it will be placed in administration with some investors out of pocket and a few wiley individuals apparently trousering a surplus following financial machinations which are incomprehensible to me.

No one should be surprised by this development; government effectively washed its hands of adult social care provision and handed it over to the private sector many years ago. Multinational investors in all their guises have but one imperative – to maximise monetary return, but private enterprise and risk go hand-in-hand and some failures are inevitable.

One has the sense of the Southern Cross debacle playing out again, with national media asking largely fatuous questions about corporate accountability, presenting government as a potential ‘Mr Fixit’ rather than as agent provocateur.

But a … Read More »


Some things cannot be ignored

Posted on December 4th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Some things cannot be ignored

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

What do we take away from the Competition and Markets Authority’s final report on the care homes sector? I think that firstly it has to be that, despite the CMA initially saying that it would not take account of funding levels, its headline pronouncement was that ‘the current system for providing care is not sustainable without additional funding’.

The CMA identified a funding shortfall of £1bn a year across the UK because ‘councils are paying fee rates for the residents they fund which are below the costs care homes incur’. The final report acknowledges that this has led to care homes propping up their finances by charging higher prices (about 40% more) to those who pay for their own care.

The report then acknowledges that uncertainty about future funding, including whether council fees will cover the full costs … Read More »


Never so Green

Posted on November 27th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Guest Blogger JEF SMITH

There was very little for one’s comfort in the Government’s mid-November announcement on the way forward for making policy on social care. It promised no more than a Green Paper, the most preliminary type of consultation document. There was no sense of the urgent crisis both the care sector and the NHS currently face; the accompanying statement had the cheek to congratulate the Government on the extra money already being supplied, though just about everyone else regards that as hopelessly inadequate. If ever there were a case of talks about talks, fiddling while Rome burns, and kicking an issue into the long (green) grass, this was it.

Serious Whitehall watchers will have noted a few other scraps of evidence. First, the announcement came in the name of First Minister Damian Green (no relation). Mr Green, though nominally First … Read More »


A weary sense of deja vu

Posted on November 20th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 4 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

So we are to be favoured with a Green Paper sometime next summer.

Theresa May’s insistence on the importance of an exact date for Brexit rings hollow alongside her government’s insouciant deferral of the Green Paper. They say “it is right that we take the time needed to debate the many complex issues and listen to the perspectives of experts and care users, to build consensus around reforms which can succeed.” They’ve had years to do this.

It is with a weary sense of deja vu that I recall that the release of the last social care Green Paper was deferred. Green Papers are of course standard practice for appearing to address an issue while not actually doing anything. A panel of the great and good comes up with a few suggestions which are then put out to … Read More »


It’s a hard, hard world

Posted on November 13th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on It’s a hard, hard world

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

A recent survey has found that 63% of the general public believe the NHS provides social care and 42% think it’s free.

It might be difficult for we who are involved with social care to appreciate this ignorance of the reality, but most people have little engagement with social care, which is why government has hitherto felt that, as long as the system doesn’t actually collapse, it can get by with a very minimum drip-feed of extra resources.

But the increasing unmet need is making itself felt in the NHS, with frail elderly people being increasingly yo-yo’d between hospital and home – at huge cost and with huge stress to the elderly people concerned.

It is the latter which makes the situation so morally repugnant. We have come quite a long way towards social justice but it has yet … Read More »


Sign-up and pay, or perhaps pay more

Posted on November 6th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 5 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

There are powerful arguments why carers working at night in small specialist care facilities should be paid their full hourly rate, even if they spend much of the shift asleep. But there is a strong economic argument why ‘sleep-in’ shifts should be paid at a flat rate of £35-£45, with only that time spent delivering care being paid for at an hourly rate.

Until recently the latter argument has prevailed, but now the employment tribunals and the unions have insisted that the workers must be paid the hourly rate and this should be back-dated.

Care providers howled that they couldn’t afford it at the current rates of funding and that back-dated payments could cost the sector as much as £400m.

Government has responded in some measure to providers’ concerns, suspending enforcement action against them and waiving at least some … Read More »


The parallel universes of social care

Posted on October 30th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By guest blogger JOHN BURTON

The Care Quality Commission’s adult social care ‘productivity’ dipped in August and for the umpteenth time the 90% target of annual inspections was missed by quite a margin. Why? Well, the teams were ‘under considerable pressure’ according to the chief inspector because of holidays, sickness, vacancies, retirement and ‘enforcement actions’.

In addition, of those care homes that were inspected and received a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating, 23% – or nearly one in four – were discovered to have deteriorated. On re-inspection, 20% ‘required improvement’ and 3% (that’s still a lot of homes) were ‘inadequate’. So, more special measures and enforcement action to do. Next year, ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ homes will be inspected even less often. The ‘timeliness’ of report writing continues to lag behind the generous ten-week target, but as usual, this is interpreted as ‘improving’.

As Andrea … Read More »



Latest blog posts

Shuffling to some purpose – or just fancy footwork?

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

Spare a thought if you will for the hard pressed people who have to update government information. Well into 2018, for...

Life support for the NHS

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

To outline a comprehensive remedy for the ongoing and worsening woes of the beleaguered NHS would take a little more...

A flight of festive fancy

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Christmas Past: It’s cold outside but inside the care home the star atop the tree beams its rays of hope...