National Academies Study Recognizes Social Workers as Specialists in Social Care

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds a study released today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine – Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation’s Health.

Professional social workers for more than a century have been indispensable in advancing the nation’s health, providing much-needed services both within and outside health care settings. Moreover, social workers have been leaders in addressing the social determinants of health: economic stability, education, social community context, health care access and environmental factors. NASW is pleased that the profession’s valuable contributions in providing social care, especially in promoting health equity and access, are recognized in this major national study.

“The social determinants of health account for more than 50 percent of health outcomes. It is therefore important to acknowledge the valuable role of social workers in improving the nation’s health. As the study notes, social workers are specialists in providing social care,” said NASW Chief Executive Officer Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW.

The study defines social care as “activities that address health-related social risk factors and social needs,” and outlines five goals to advance the effort to better integrate social care into health care delivery, including:

  1. Designing health care delivery to integrate social care into health care
  2. Building a workforce to integrate social care into health care delivery
  3. Developing a digital infrastructure that is interoperable between health care and social care organizations
  4. Financing the integration of health care and social care
  5. Funding, conducting and translating research and evaluation on the effectiveness and implementation of social care practices in health care settings.

The study further outlines numerous recommendations for how these goals can be achieved.

Study Committee member Robyn Golden, LCSW, associate vice president of Population Health and Aging at Rush University Medical Center, said “It was truly gratifying to participate in this consensus report and work with prominent, nationally-recognized professionals from across the health care spectrum. As the study articulates, social workers are essential in this arena, and in creating partnerships between the medical and social service worlds.”

One of the study’s key recommendations is that social workers be adequately paid for providing social care. NASW agrees with this recommendation.

We, therefore, urge Congress to pass the Improving Access to Mental Health Act (S. 782/H.R. 1533). This much-needed legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow, MSW (D-MI) and John Barrasso, MD (R-WY), and Rep. Barbara Lee, MSW (D-CA), will enable clinical social workers to receive Medicare Part B reimbursement for providing Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention (HBAI) services, which are within the clinical social work scope of practice.

This much-needed legislation will also enable clinical social workers to receive Medicare Part B reimbursement for services provided to skilled nursing facility residents, many of whom experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.

In addition, NASW implores the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) not to implement its proposed payment cuts to clinical social workers participating in Medicare Part B. Clinical social workers are currently reimbursed at only 75 percent of the physician fee schedule, the lowest payment rate of any mental health clinician in this major federal program, despite providing equivalent services.

The Improving Access to Mental Health Act, which Congress should enact as soon as possible, would increase this rate to 85 percent. To ensure a sufficient workforce to meet the social and clinical care needs of older Americans, CMS needs to increase, not decrease, these reimbursement rates.

Finally, NASW urges regulators and other policymakers to adopt the study’s recommendation to enlarge the scope of practice for the nation’s 700,000 social workers to include social care.

“This is a very significant study to which policymakers on the local, state and federal level should pay careful attention,” McClain said. “We look forward to continuing to partner with these and other key stakeholders to ensure that the study’s recommendations are realized, for the benefit of people from all walks of life.”

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.

How the Internet and Social Media Is Impacting Social Work

Social media and the Internet, in general, have had an immense effect on social work. It enables communication between people from different corners of the world and makes access to information fast and easy. On the flipside, social media has brought about evils like fake news and Cyber Bullying whose effects can be fatal. But how exactly has what is possibly the most significant invention of the 21st century affected the field of social work? Below is a look at both the positive and negative impacts of social media.

Positive impacts

Enhanced Communication

Social media has significantly improved the communication experience between social workers and their clients. Social networks such as Facebook and WhatsApp make it easier, cheaper and faster for social workers to get in touch with clients without necessarily spending money on transport. In addition to this, most social workers have social media pages where interested clients can contact them and book appointments without breaking a sweat.

Globalization of social work

Decades ago, social workers could only deal with issues affecting their neighboring communities. Now, with social sites like Skype and Facebook Messenger, it is possible for a counselor in the USA to offer their services to a client in Europe or Africa without either of them incurring massive expenditure.

Easier solicitation of clients

As mentioned earlier, social workers can attract more clients by opening social media pages and regularly updating content. As it were, there are numerous resources available to social workers who want to establish and grow their online presence such as using video to increase engagement on social media. On their part, clients can search for available social workers and be able to receive services such as spiritual, psychiatrist and anxiety counseling online even without revealing their identities.

Negative Impacts

Ethical dilemmas

Social workers who have direct contact with their clients on social media face a lot of moral issues in their work. For one, being friends on Facebook may result in both consensual and unwanted flirting which may lead to a sexual relationship. This often leads to conflicts of interest which might affect the social worker’s efficiency.

Privacy and confidentiality

In the past, social workers relied on the personal information provided by their clients when designing interventions. With social media, social workers like counselors and psychiatrists may be tempted to spy on their clients’ social media pages to fish for information. This amounts to an invasion of privacy, which is not only an ethical issue but a legal issue as well.

Social workers may also find themselves in awkward situations when, for instance, clients send them friend requests on Facebook and start chatting them up. There is also the risk of clients stalking social workers and using the information and pictures on their pages for unprofessional purposes.

Regulatory challenges

Social work remains mostly an unregulated field, and the increasing social media usage doesn’t make it any better. On one side, regulatory bodies may find it difficult to regulate online social workers who may not have a physical office or address for that matter.

This is made even worse by the fact that there is no existing regulatory framework for online social work. Clients, on the other hand, may also not be in a position to verify the registration and regulatory status of their social workers especially if they’re not from the same country.

Dealing with unregulated social workers exposes one to dangers such as sexual harassment and even fraud.

Way forward

Social work has a lot of challenges as it is and social media, despite being a significant opportunity, happens to be one of them. As government agencies find ways to regulate online social work, both the public and social workers must look out for themselves and find ways to protect their confidentiality.

How a Maori Model of Improving Care Experience Has Been Transformative for a Family in Glasgow

Most of us have been there – you look in your diary, see that you have a review case conference for a particular family in a few days and your heart sinks. Two boys who have been on the child protection register for two years. Neglect is the primary risk indicator. Mum came along to each core group and conference for the first year. She would nod her head and promise that things would change. But they didn’t, and the social workers became more worried about the boys.

For a while after that, mum still came to meetings but disagreed with most of what was being said. She would become distressed and angry, and verbally abuse workers before storming out whilst the workers continued to worry. Then mum stopped coming along altogether.

The mood in the conference was flat. Deflated. The core group team had been working really hard to help mum provide better quality care. But the rent arrears continued to accumulate and eviction was imminent. The boys weren’t at school as often as they should be and, when they were there, weren’t ready to learn. The older boy had withdrawn into himself and had taken to seeking refuge in a cupboard. The younger boy had a chronic cough and toothache, which went untreated. They often looked grubby and unkempt.

The discussion amongst the workers was full and frank. They expressed genuine concern and care for the family. Each member was fully committed and driven to affect change, despite the hostility and resistance they were encountering.

The group worked really well together. Simple things like using group e-mail to communicate so that everyone was updated and arranging meetings at the end of the day to enable the boys’ teachers to attend made a difference. This united team supported each other, and their frustration at the lack of progress was understandable.

Family Group Decision Making

It was agreed that, given the harm already caused and the continuing high risk of further harm, it was likely that we would have to seek to remove the boys from their mother’s care. The involvement and protective ability of the extended family was unclear, as mum blocked attempts to engage them. It was therefore agreed that a referral would be made to our Family Group Decision Making service (FGDM).

FGDM was brand new to Glasgow at that time. Evidence from elsewhere had suggested that using this model can really turn things around for family relationships, so we decided to put this into practice. It’s a model that originates from New Zealand, where Maori children were over-represented in the care system with little consultation with or involvement of their extended families. In Scotland, it was pioneered by Children 1st in 1998 and set up in Edinburgh initially. The aim is to enable the family to develop their own support plan which meets the children’s needs and keeps them safe.

The model had been chosen by Glasgow as it fits with the priorities of empowering families and communities, reducing the number of children being removed from their families, and identifying family contacts and placements for children already in local authority care. It was being piloted in North-East Glasgow, with considerable support from the well-established service in Edinburgh, and included an extended family network search function, using the Registrars of birth, marriages, and deaths at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow records to explore fully the family tree.

Each family is assigned a Family Group Co-ordinator, who manages the process and facilitates the family conference. She contacted and prepared the boys, mum and extended family. During this period, mum and the boys were evicted and went to live with the maternal grandmother which forced a closeness that had been missing for some time. The Family Group Co-ordinator organised the family meeting.

The family was given the parameters of what their support plan needed to cover. They were then given private time to produce their plan, which included concrete activities such as the boys getting to school/medical appointments, being available physically and emotionally for the boys, and organising social activities. One of the crucial events here was mum revealing previous trauma to her mother, sisters and workers, which no-one had known, and the subsequent rebuilding of the relationships between mum and her mother and siblings.

No sinking heart and transformative change

Fast forward four months. I looked in my diary and I saw the next review case conference for the family. No sinking heart this time. Instead, a feeling of optimism and hope, tempered with some skepticism about how the reported progress would hold up under the scrutiny of a case conference. The boys chose not to come but had their views represented by their workers. Mum was there, supported by several family members.

Her presentation was transformed – she was smiling and joking, she participated fully in the conference (even the hard bits), was honest, and nearly brought a tear to everyone’s eyes. The family members made valuable contributions and reassured me the situation would never be the same again. I had no hesitation in removing the boys’ names from the register. Five months later, a children’s panel felt able to terminate the supervision orders.

On that day, mum gave the social worker a hug and a plant to say ‘thank you’. I like to contrast that image with the previous one I had, where she chased him out the house and down the street.

Social For Social: 5 Professional Ways For Social Workers to Effectively Use Social Media

Whenever you hear the context of social work in social media, it primarily generates unlikely images of disciplinary hearings and confidentiality breaches. But on the contrary, incorporating social media in social work could be very beneficial and will serve as a productive outlet for many social workers who want to show to everyone a glimpse of their world and of what it truly means to become one.

It’s inevitable for some social workers to get hesitant about involving in social media and that’s perfectly understandable. Most of them just don’t want to break the law and boundaries between them and their clients. With almost 3 billion active social media users, it’s easy to see the picture. One wrong post and your career will be in jeopardy.

The good news though, is that there are professional ways to connect to your clients, gather support from your colleagues and improve your knowledge. Below are five ways social media can aid social workers.

Feed Yourself With Information


Social workers will learn about social work through reading books and case studies. However, one fact remains – social work is ever-changing and changes its mode as fast as people do. To keep updated with the changing practices, one needs to plug in online, in social media for starters.

For example, you can follow and keep tabs on different social work centers through their social channels to learn more about their practices as well as the practices in another country. You can also follow different companies with blog posting service and check their blogs for case studies and informative contents.

Or if you’re working with victims of recent calamities and natural disasters, you can check the sentiments of these people about their situation through browsing for different feeds online from the locals rather than depending on the hand-me-down information that local authorities provide.

Reach Out And Create A Positive Influence

The beauty of social media is that it allows you to connect with your clients and your colleagues. You can also reach out to people with disabilities and other types of limitations that hinder them from reaching out social workers due to their condition and struggles of getting around.

For instance, if you have a social media account, they can just look for you online and ask for assistance if they can’t obtain the help they need. Furthermore, social media also enables you to reach out more people since it only takes less energy and time compared to making phone calls to just to check in for people.

Build Professional Identity

Matt Hughes – Director of One Stop Social

Most often than not, social workers face challenges when it comes to creating a professional persona. Social media platforms furnish a solid ground for establishing that identity. It also allows you to share serviceable links to credible organizations.

You can show to everyone that a commonly overlooked profession should get more credibility and attention. What you can do is acquire clients who best match the skills that you have. You can also provide and share useful contents about your profession and industry that your followers can read. For this matter, you can collaborate with a company that offers guest blog posting service to produce the contents you want.

Breed A Discussion


The ability to create a group discussion is probably one of the most positive aspects of social media for social workers. When you create conversations in social media, you’re doing it with an audience. You’re performing a useful knowledge for your co-workers, your clients, and students as well.

You can start by addressing a particular issue or topic about social work and encourage your followers and friends on social media to participate by throwing in suggestions, opinions, and experiences. You can also employ for a guest blog service to create contents that will meet your goals.

Apart from the interaction, you also open the doors of opportunities for others who get cold shoulders or have a limited voice. You know very well that representing the side of unmerited people is a big interest among social workers.

Build And Reinforce

It’s inevitable sometimes for many social workers and the people they serve to feel alone and isolated. Social media is a great platform to get care and support that you need. You’ll be able to share your experiences and get a response from your comrades in social work who know the emotional struggles of helping people with a lot of incapabilities.

You can keep in touch with your former clients by leaving a positive comment or doing a quick check on them through social media channels. Social workers, just like social networking, is always at the center of everything which makes it crucial in supporting and connecting the people around them. Your job, your life and those people you help are better off if you participate and join.

Takeaway   

We’re now living in a digital era where digitization influence almost every facet of our lives, be it at home, school or work – we are under the influence of digital revolution. It’s no longer surprising that it also invade the social work industry. With too many changes and development taking place left and right, there’s no better way to us than to adapt them and go forward. And social work is no exception.

ReMoved: A Poignant Short Film on Foster Care

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“It’s natural for you to think about how fostering will affect your life.  About how hard it will be or how it will impact your family. But try to imagine what it’s like for that kid in foster care. And how much harder it is for them. Because you’re an adult after all, but they’re just kids,” explained Chris Poynter, a foster parent trainer and child advocate in Southern California.

After showing a short slideshow of sentences that kids in foster care wish adults knew about what it’s like to be in care, prospective foster parents Nathanael and Christina Matanick were so inspired that they decided to make their next short film about the experience of foster care from a child’s point of view.

Their film proceeded to win at the speed film festival they created it for (the 168 Film Festival), and then went on to win numerous awards at various other film festivals worldwide (Enfoque International Film Festival, St. Tropez International Film Festival, Sikeston Film Festival). Most notably and of most affirmation for the Matanicks, the film spread virally online in March 2014 and quickly became embraced by social workers, foster parents, child welfare agencies, court appointed special advocates, and current foster youth and alum.

The film follows the emotional journey of Zoe, a 9-year-old girl who is taken from her abusive birth home and placed in the tumultuous foster care system. Separated from her brother, Zoe bounces from foster home to foster home, experiencing additional trauma within the system, and finally lands in a good foster home but experiences flashbacks and behavioral issues stemming from triggers in her environment. Through it all, she lugs her black trash bag from place to place, which contains the few items that belong to her.

The uniqueness of the 13-minute film lies in its perspective from the child’s point of view. The entire film is driven by Zoe’s voice-over, articulating the thoughts and emotions of her experience.

Says Janet Magee, founder of Blue Sunday, an initiative to raise awareness and prevent child abuse, “[ReMoved is] the most authentic video I’ve ever seen! They have it down to the trash bag she used as a suitcase – my personal pet peeve.  It’s the wake up call of the century for a nation where child abuse is epidemic.  It’s a 12 minute investment thank can change your life and hopefully a child’s.”

Child abuse is rampant in the United States—and exists everywhere worldwide as well. Current figures have the number of children in the United States foster care system as around 400,000. Rather than escaping from neglect and abuse they encountered in their birth homes, many of these children entering foster care experience additional trauma through repeated moves, unloving caregivers, separation from siblings, et cetera.

Says Nathanael Matanick, creator and director of ReMoved, “Film has a way of bypassing the intellectual arguments and getting straight to the emotion of an issue.” ReMoved does just that, usually bringing viewers to tears as they resonate and understand Zoe’s story and determine in their hearts to do what they can to make a difference for the children in their own communities.  ReMoved and its sequel, Remember My Story, can be licensed through the film’s webpage: www.removedfilm.com

Not an Average Day in the Office: Social Workers from the US to Madrid Come to UK Workplaces for a Day of Unique Learning

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Social workers from across the world will be turning up at workplaces in the UK for a series of seminars on the final day of the International Federation of Social Workers’ (IFSW) European Conference and Social Services Expo in September.

The event hosted by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) aims to give practitioners a chance to learn about an area of practice in a real-life setting while also building links with colleagues in other countries to further their learning and development.

Ruth Stark, President of IFSW, said: “There will be presentations, workshops, meeting people who use services and colleagues from across the globe. These will look at new ways of working but also establish ongoing networks which will be supported by BASW and IFSW for future exchange and mutual learning.

“We do not want just a one-off talking shop. We are investing in new ways to stimulate the thinking that will be needed in the years to come of how we can co-construct with the people we work with to find better ways of achieving the outcomes that enable people to lead better lives.”

The seminars will include work with Roma families. A number of local authorities and NGOs recognise that with the discrimination experienced by families in parts of Europe, many have been moving north to escape.

“Listening to families tell of their experiences of housing, health and school systems that discriminate on the grounds of ethnicity, and bullying and intimidation from those in authority, speak to the feelings of exclusion that many of us joined social work to combat,” said Ms Stark.

“But in reality, how do we work with people who have been displaced from their homeland and find themselves in countries where they can live together inclusively?”

There are also new issues of language, culture and religion for generations that are subsequently born in a new country. Different generations have different languages that could cause tension among families. How are social workers equipped to deal with it?

Ms Stark added, “Sharing knowledge not only within our own teams but from across Europe and beyond will enable us to understand these cross-border issues more intelligently and therefore improve the quality of our work.”

The seminars will include how social workers in France or Sweden work with mental health issues – what laws cover deprivation of liberty and how social workers are involved in protecting human rights. And do the people who use the services experience the same frustrations as those in the UK?

In the Nordic countries, the criminal justice systems are held up as more progressive than those in the UK, but there are still horrific crimes of violence. A joint presentation from Scotland and Sweden will show how partnership working can help boost knowledge in key areas and how reduction of violence programmes in many countries are learning from each other.

In child protection, the seminars will cover how countries in the post-soviet era are developing models of intervention. Are they evolving new methods that would help in this complex area of work? Some countries treat child abuse investigation as solely the remit of law enforcement agencies like the police, while in the UK it is a joint responsibility between police and social work.

Other subject areas include children in public care – how are countries across the world responding to growing calls from victims of institutional abuse for social justice? Some have given compensation and some have held public inquiries but none have really tackled the behaviour of those with power and control who commit offences against children.

Good practice in public care will be the focus of a seminar organised by the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) and the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration. This will take in the principles of the Kilbrandon Report – needs not deeds – which underpin the children’s hearings system that has been operating in Scotland since 1970.

A seminar in Renfrewshire will focus on some of the work in the Netherlands and Denmark to create dementia-friendly living environments, enabling people to have a more “normalised” life in their later years. This could revolutionise how joint health and social care budgets are used more effectively.

South Lanarkshire will host a seminar on social work education. The authority has a renowned reputation for the quality of its student social workers – some winning Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) awards – and is keen to share its knowledge of good quality training. Its particular problem is a large geographical area where it has to “grow its own” – a challenge faced by many parts of Europe from Finland and Sweden to Spain, Greece and Portugal.

Ruth Stark said, “These seminars will lead to international networks that will continue to support social workers’ learning and development. There is much to learn from our European colleagues – come and join us!”

IFSW

The Westminster Child Abuse Inquiry: Blood on Their Hands

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Between 1981 and 1985, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Geoffrey Dickens campaigned to uncover a pedophile ring at the heart of Westminster. In 1984, Dickens presented a 40-page dossier of evidence to Margaret Thatcher’s then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, implicating numerous prominent figures “in positions of power, influence and responsibility”, including the name of the late MP Cyril Smith. On receiving the dossier, Leon Brittan sent a letter to Dickens, informing him that his file would be given to police and passed on to the Home Office for investigation.

After the Jimmy Savile scandal broke in Britain in 2011, Peter McKelvie, a former Child Protection manager, contacted Labour MP Tom Watson with claims that at least 20 prominent figures, including former MPs and government ministers, had abused children for “decades”. McKelvie had discovered links between paedophiles and the government while assisting police in investigating convicted paedophile Peter Righton who had made his career as a child protection expert. Amongst evidence seized from Righton’s home in 1992 were a vast number of documents that pointed to a “very well organized pedophile network.”

As more information emerged, different investigations were launched by the police, under Operation Fairbank, including inquiries into activities of child abuse at Elm Guest House in London and Operation Midland, which is specifically looking at information about three possible murders linked to child abuse.

HORRIFIC ABUSE

The allegations that are surfacing from victims of the pedophile ring, push the boundaries of human depravity.  Amongst the allegations, is the claim that Liberal MP Cyril Smith, who died in 2010, abused boys at Knowl View residential school in Rochdale and at Elm Guest House, in Barnes in south west London, during the 1970s and 1980s. In one incident, Smith is accused of molesting an 11 year old boy at the National Liberal Club in London in 1978, insisting that the boy remove his underpants before attempting to fondle him.

At least three other MPs are reported to have been questioned in 1982 after a police raid on Elm Guest House. It was reported at the time that it was being used as a brothel where children as young as 10 were being abused. Whips, chains and ropes were discovered at the Guest House by police officers.

A particularly chilling statement was given by an alleged victim, known as ‘Nick’, who stated that, as a child, he and other boys, aged between 10 and 14 were repeatedly raped by government ministers. He recalled that chauffeur-driven cars were sent to pick up young boys and drive them to locations where they were to be abused. Nick states that he was present in the room when a 12 year old boy was raped and strangled to death by a Tory MP.

Nick also claims that another 11 year old boy was deliberately hit down and killed by a car in broad daylight on a London street as a warning to other boys not to speak out about their abuse. Worryingly, Home Secretary Theresa May has hinted that this only touches the surface of the horrors committed by the Westminster paedophile ring.

Whilst, it was clear that evidence had been collected at the time of the abuse, what makes this heartbreaking reality more sickening, is that there appears to be a widespread and deep-rooted cover up of what happened.

The details of the 40 page dossier, passed from Dickens to Brittan in 1984, still remain unknown, as the police later stated they had no record of any investigation into the allegations and a Home Office review revealed that the dossier “has since been destroyed or lost.”

On 1 July 2014, Labour MP Simon Danczuk publicly called on Leon Brittan to say what he knew about paedophile allegations passed to him when he was Home Secretary in the 1980s. Brittan has always denied any wrong-doing, however his death on the 22nd January 2015 has meant that a full investigation in to his actions can never be undertaken.

MEDIA SILENCING

The scale of the cover up reaches much further than a select group of politicians. Two newspaper executives have stated that when they attempted to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse at Elm Guest House, their publications were issued with D-notices. D-notices (Defence Advisory Notice) are issued by government as warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security.

Don Hale, the former editor of the Bury Messenger between 1980 and 1988, recalls being given a file by MEP Barbara Castle, which contained details of a Home Office investigation into allegations made by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens of the existence of a Westminster pedophile ring. Hale said that he asked the Home Office for guidance on the dossier and the progress of the investigation but was repeatedly stonewalled.

“Then shortly after Cyril Smith bullied his way into my office. I thought he was going to punch me. He was sweating and aggressive and wanted to take the files away, saying it was a load of nonsense and that Barbara Castle just had a bee in her bonnet about homosexuals. I refused to give him the files,” said Hale.

“The very next day two non-uniformed officers, about 15 uniformed officers and another non-uniformed person, who didn’t introduce himself, came to the office waving a D-notice and said that I would be damaging national security if I reported on the file.”

Officials running the D-notice system, which works closely with MI5 and MI6 and the Ministry of Defence, have said that the files which would contain the record of the D-notices have been destroyed.

THREATS AND INTIMIDATION

The threats and intimidation extended to more than just media reporters. On the 29th November 1985, Geoffrey Dickens said in a speech to the House of Commons that “the noose around my neck grew tighter after I named a former high-flying British diplomat (Peter Hayman) on the Floor of the House. Honourable Members will understand that where big money is involved and as important names came into my possession so the threats began. First, I received threatening telephone calls followed by two burglaries at my London home. Then, more seriously, my name appeared on a multi-killer’s hit list.”

The same week that Dickens handed the dossier over to Brittan, his flat in London and his constituency home were subsequently broken into and ransacked. Nothing was taken from either premises.

However, the level of intimidation becomes even more disconcerting. Last year, Scotland Yard confirmed that they are looking in to the suspicious murders of two men who were in the process of whistleblowing to reveal the Westminster paedophile ring. In 1993, Lambeth Social Services Manager, Bulic Forsyth told a witness that he suspected children were being assaulted by an organized group at a children’s home said to have been visited by a Labour politician. Days later Forsyth was beaten to death in his flat which was then set on fire. A caretaker who was in the process of giving evidence against the child abuse gang died in similar circumstances. Both cases remain unsolved.

More recently, Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, who has called for a public inquiry into the child abuse, has alleged that before his appearance at the Home Affairs Select Committee where he was to answer questions on child abuse, he was urged by a Conservative minister not to challenge Leon Brittan over his knowledge of the alleged paedophile ring at Westminster.

Danczuk said of the warning that he’d “never spoken to (the man) before in my life but he blocked my way and ushered me to one side… He warned me to think very carefully about what I was going to say the next day.” The minister said to Danczuk, “I hear you’re about to challenge Lord Brittan about when he knew about child sex abuse…It wouldn’t be a wise move…It was all put to bed a long time ago.” The minister also warned Danczuk that he could be responsible for Brittan’s death.

FAILURES OF THE POLICE AND CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE

Scotland Yard has also been implicated in the cover up after retired magistrate, Vishambar Mehrotra, revealed the poor police handling of his son’s abduction in 1981.

Mehrotra’s eight year old son, Vishal, was abducted as he walked home from Putney on 29 July 1981. Months later Mehrota recorded a telephone call from an anonymous male prostitute informing him that his son may have been kidnapped and taken to the Elm Guest House to be abused by “judges and politicians.” The recording was given to the police but they refused to investigate the allegation. “At that time I trusted the police. But when nothing happened I became confused and concerned. Now it is clear to me that there has been a huge cover-up. There is no doubt in my mind,” said Vishal’s Father.

Similarly, in May 1979, the Rochdale Alternative Press magazine alleged that MP Cyril Smith had spanked and sexually abused teenage boys in a hostel he co-founded. The matter was investigated by the police but Smith was not prosecuted. Smith never publicly denied the accusations of abuse, nor did he ever take legal action. The Press Office of the then leader of the Liberal Party, Sir David Steel publicly commented at the time: “All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms.”

Tony Robinson, a former special branch officer with Lancashire Police in the 1970s, said that a dossier of sexual abuse allegations against Smith, which police claimed had been “lost” was actually seized by MI5. Robinson said that he was asked by MI5 to send to London a police dossier that had been kept in a safe in his office which he said was “thick” with allegations from boys claiming they had been abused by Smith. On 27th November 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service admitted that Smith should have been charged with crimes of abuse more than 40 years earlier.

In September 2013, a Channel 4 Dispatches programme “The Pedophile MP: How Cyril Smith Got Away With It” quoted the Crown Prosecution Service as claiming that they had not prosecuted Smith for crimes of abuse because he had been given an assurance in 1970 that he would not be prosecuted, and that prevented them from subsequently reopening the investigation under the law at the time.

In June 2014, Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson of Greater Manchester Police admitted the force’s previous investigations into Cyril Smith’s abuse of children at Rochdale Knowl View residential school “fell well short” of what would be expected today.  Allegations had been made that a paedophile ring had been operating for decades in the town of Rochdale and that men would travel from all over Yorkshire to Rochdale to have sex with Knowl View boys aged between eight and thirteen years of age. Greater Manchester Police had the names of 14 of the 21 suspects, including Cyril Smith. In July 2014, Rochdale council’s inquiry into child abuse linked to Cyril Smith at Knowl View residential school was halted at the request of police. Greater Manchester Police asked the authority to suspend their inquiry while detectives investigated claims of an institutional cover up.

MISHANDLED INQUIRY

In 2013 the Home Office conducted a review on their handling of the missing dossier given by Geoffrey Dickens to Leon Brittan and claimed that parts of the dossier described as “credible” and which contained “realistic potential” for further investigation had been passed to prosecutors and the police.

The review, covering the years 1979 to 1999, found 527 potentially relevant files the Home Office had kept. However, a further 114 documents that also concerned child abuse allegations were missing from the Home Office’s records.

The government has declined to publish the 2013 review, with a spokesperson saying that “the executive summary reflects very fully the report…If there are allegations, evidence of wrongdoing that people have they should bring that to the attention of the relevant authorities including the police.”

Last year, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a wider expert-led, independent inquiry into whether public bodies, such as the police, NHS and BBC, have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. Within days, the integrity of the inquiry was called in to question as Baroness Butler-Sloss, the retired high court judge, who was selected to chair the panel leading the inquiry was forced to step down when it was highlighted that her brother, Lord Havers, was attorney general for much of the 1980s and was the government’s senior legal officer at the time the Dickens dossier was considered.

Home Secretary Theresa May then chose corporate lawyer Dame Fiona Woolf as Butler-Sloss’s replacement, but she too was quickly forced to stand down after it was disclosed that she had lived in the same street as Lord Brittan and had dinner with him five times between 2008 and 2012. It was also revealed that the Home Office had helped her re-write a letter detailing her contacts with Lord Brittan seven times in a way that played down their relationship.

In April 2014, following the reports that there had been 144 complaints against Cyril Smith and that attempts to prosecute him had always been blocked, Tim Farron, President of the Liberal Democrats called for an inquiry in to his party to retrieve answers to “serious questions” about who knew that Smith had faced allegations of sexual assault. Nick Clegg, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat party has refused to allow this inquiry.

In July 2014, Norman Tebbit, who had held a variety of government ministerial posts in the 1980s, when asked if there had been a “big political cover up”, said that “there may well have been”, describing it as “…almost unconscious. It was the thing that people did at that time.” Tebbit also spoke of the political atmosphere of the 1980s, saying that “At that time I think most people would have thought that the establishment, the system, was to be protected and if a few things had gone wrong here and there that it was more important to protect the system than to delve too far into it.”

WITHOUT JUSTICE THE ABUSE CONTINUES

As the inquiry in to what happened stumbles along and Theresa May struggles to find a replacement Chair for the investigating panel, we must remember that at the heart of all of this, are many individuals who suffered unimaginable abuse when they were at their most vulnerable.

One victim, now in his 40s, has said that the abusers “controlled my life for… nine years. They created fear that penetrated every part of me. That was part of my life day in and day out. You didn’t question what they wanted; you didn’t hesitate to do what they asked you to do. You did what you were told without question or the punishments were very severe. They had no hesitation in doing what they wanted to do. Some of them were quite open about who they were. They had no fear at all of being caught, it didn’t even cross their mind. They could do anything they wanted without question and we were told that.”

It is clear that those who are part of, or who have links to the establishment, are the people who can be least trusted to secure justice for the victims. This week it was reported that Keith Vaz, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has published four of the victim’s names online, leading to the victim’s receiving countless death threats. This demonstrates, yet another unforgivable mistake by those whom we should be able to trust the most. If those with the power to uncover the truth about this injustice choose not to, where do we turn to next?

This is a dark episode in British history and my heart is with all those, both victims and whistleblowers, who have fought hard to bring us back to the light. May we soon get there.

The Care Act 2014 and What it Means for Prisoners in the UK

elderly-prison-warden

The British prison service is struggling to deal with an ageing and growing population. As it stands, the number of prisoners in the United Kingdom has increased by 20% in the last 12 years, and is now fast approaching 85,000. Higher crime rates combined with longer sentences mean that many inmates are reaching old age in prison, leaving the system struggling to cope with the demands placed on them.

The Break Down

The Care Act 2014 is due to be implemented in April 2015. This Act is a revolutionary piece of legislation because for the first time, it outlines practices for the care of prisoners. As the Minister of Care and Support, Norman Lamb states: ‘The Care Act has created a single, modern law that makes it clear what kind of care people should expect… First and foremost councils will now have a duty to consider the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of the individual needing care.’

This new legislation will affect not only the prison service but local authorities across the country. As of next year, social care needs in the UK prison system will be assessed on a case by case basis. Prisoners who meet a set of criteria and are deemed to require extra support will have services provided by their local authority, rather than by individuals employed by the prison service. For the first time, the prison service and local authorities will work in conjunction to share a legal duty of care.

Staffing and Training Issues

With 13% of prison inhabitants situated in the 50 plus threshold, this Act could put further strain on the British prison service and its staff. Therefore, in order to comply with this Act as well as cope with these growing care responsibilities, prison staff will require professional training to deal with these extra demands. Courses including palliative care, health and safety, and dementia awareness could soon become a standard part of a prison officer’s training. But there are limitations on the care duties that a single member of staff can be reasonably expected to perform. For example, those inmates who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, are disabled, or incontinent, call for a higher provision of care and require a larger allocation of a prison officer’s time.

This Act will come into effect during a turbulent economic period for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). Having already experienced huge financial cuts over the last few years, NOMS in currently expected to shave a further £150 million. The prison service does not have the financial budget or levels of staffing that would be required to provide one-to-one care for each prisoner. Given their expected cut back, the reality of being able to viably fund new staff and provide training is a tall order. Yet for the safety and welfare of the general public, these inmates cannot be released back into society purely on account of their age and care needs. Perhaps an appropriate solution would be to create an alternative establishment: by providing a secure facility solely for elderly offenders, a smaller number of staff would require additional training. It would also free up essential space in a prison system that is growing at an exponential rate.

Essentially, The Care Act will now require the UK prison service to provide social care in conjunction with the health care provided by the NHS. The provision of adequate training required by this statute will cause a large strain on an already financially burdened system. The prison system will need to implement core structural modifications, as well as training and staffing changes, in order to provide and cope with this additional social care role.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of ToledoBlade

Response to Nicky Morgan’s Speech at the National Children and Adult Services Conference

The College of Social Work’s Chair Jo Cleary said: “The College of Social Work is extremely heartened by the Secretary of State’s, Nicky Morgan, clear and explicit support for a strong and confident profession.  The proposals about a new assessment and accreditation system for social workers, supervisors and managers who hold statutory child care roles hold real potential for promoting social work excellence in children’s services.  They could significantly assist in enhancing the status, standing and standards of social work. As such, they should dovetail with other measures already being progressed to strengthen further the quality of social work practice.

Conservative Representative Nicky Morgan- UK Parliament
Representative Nicky Morgan- UK Parliament

“It is obviously now important to understand the details of these proposals. The College and other stakeholders will be particularly concerned to ensure that any accreditation system connects with, and supports the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF).

Social workers, employers and educators need to have one coherent standards framework.  There is strong evidence that the PCF is now well established in initial and post qualifying training, in supervision and also in many employer appraisal systems.

“The College has questions too about how a new accreditation system for children’s social work might be complemented with similar approaches in adult social work.  It is vital that there is equity and equivalence across these two connected spheres of our profession.

“We support the importance of social work professional leadership and the proposal to develop accreditation for senior practice leaders is a bold step. However, we will need to understand how this will ‘fit’ with the existing Principal Children and Families Social Worker (PSW) role.  The PSW role is now well embedded in most local authorities and we look forward to clarification of this matter.

“Plans to consolidate partnerships between employers and higher education institutions are also a positive step forward.  TCSW has been working closely with these partnerships to ensure that social work students are properly prepared for the reality of frontline social work, both in terms of university-based education and practice placements.  This new announcement will help to develop this work further.

“Yesterday’s announcement marks an important milestone in a new and potentially exciting era for the social work profession and The College of Social Work looks forward to working with government, employers and other stakeholders on translating these intentions into workable proposals that will support the delivery of first class social work to children and families.”

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Mark Ivory | Head of Policy and Communications | The College of Social Work
T: 020 8453 2922 |  M: 07906 893019 | www.tcsw.org.uk
The College of Social Work, 30 Euston Square, London NW1 2FB

Press Release: Social Work Helper Magazine was not involved in the creation of this content.

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