Military discipline meets caring values
JEF SMITH explores the conflicts – but occasional surprising compatibilities – when army traditions have to be married with the demands of a social care setting.
I am not by any standard well placed for empathising with institutions associated with the army. A war orphan before I was five and (perhaps as a result) a pacifist in my teens and (of course) a student anti-bomb protester, I narrowly evaded national service and since then have given as wide a berth as possible to anything military. A very different set of life experiences and a professional career in social services and the voluntary sector leave me subscribing ever more enthusiastically to the social care values of privacy, choice, independence and purple-wearing bloody mindedness. So when the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) picks a fight with the Royal Hospital Chelsea by making criticisms following an unannounced inspection last summer, there should be little doubt as to where my loyalties lie. And yet . . .
In fairness to both participants it must be said that the structure under which care services are regulated was emphatically not designed to accommodate the very specialist institut