Getting old needn’t be too scary with the help and support available in Liverpool
Regular readers of this blog will know that In November I presented some awards at the Social Workers Award night. I realised then just how long it was since I had last met a social worker. Social workers are the unsung heroes of our care services only appearing on our political horizon when the popular press thinks they have done something wrong or we are reorganising them.
I started off in Careline and remembered the heated discussion that we had when we introduced Careline and the even more heated discussions when we attached our ‘out of hours’ social workers to the main Liverpool Direct system. The argument went, and I admit that I partly shared it, was that the complex issues that are involved cannot be dealt with over the phone. That is correct to a point. BUT a lot can be done over the phone.
Firstly they can answer simple questions. What may we be entitled to? Where can I get someone to help adapt my house; where are the support groups.
Secondly they can take a range of basic information and then pass it up the system to people who can make an initial assessment.
Thirdly they can take that assessment further in more complex cases then can make sure that a social workers sees the Individual or family for the complex assessment that is required.
Lastly, of course they can be the emergency call centre to deal quickly and adequately with desperate cases.
This may seem as though amateurs were passing cases up to professionals. Far from it. Every member of staff was trained; there was a progression route to help them advance up the qualifications ladder. Even more important was the palpable fierce commitment to the needs of the individuals and their families exhibited by every that I spoke to. I was reassured that as I get even more old and doddery someone will look after me.
I also spoke to people dealing with the needs of children and teenagers. Again they have ability over the phone to comprehend and empathize with the needs of your people and their families where so often urgent action is required. Kids who have run away need finding fast. Kids who are being battered physically or emotionally need protection fast. Fast action needs following up with more long-term solutions and I had no doubt of the ability of the staff to envisage and promote those solutions.
Particularly disturbing was the continued work that needs to be done time and time again with ‘looked after children’. We do good things but it would appear that the odds are stacked against the individuals once they enter the system. That’s why the mash IS SO IMPORTANT. This is where staff from a range of different organizations share their information to ensure appropriate joined up action. Many of the young people suffer in a succession of problems. Their families are often known to the ‘authorities’ in a number of ways. Individual needs of young people cannot be considered outside the wider needs of reshaping and supporting their families.
From Venture Place I went to see some front line work in the Granby Hub. This is a former residential home which is now used as an assessment and support centre for people who leave hospital. Here people stay for a few weeks or occasionally a few months and they are helped to relearn mobility of skills to deal with the problems which they still face after leaving hospital. It rarely has an empty bed. The Royal is on every day have you go a space, when will you have a space.
When a space is found a range of professional help the predominantly elderly people with occupational therapy, aids etc. to ready them to the return to their own home. The building is airy and spacious and the food was tempting. I’ve been invited back for a Chinese meal which rumour tells me is the favorite of a certain Samih Kalakeche!!
The financial comparisons are staggering. It costs 550 pounds to keep someone in a hospital bed for a night and 500 pounds to keep then in the Granby Hub for a week. That is why and people like Simon Stevens, the NHS England Chief Executive are saying that if more money comes available , and it must come available, it ought to be put into social care. Getting people out of hospital; into community care and then back into their own homes where possible saves a fortune but just as importantly puts people where they want to be.
As so often my heart was lifted by seeing the education and professionalism of our staff. It is all too easy for politicians to concentrate just on the numbers of people and number of pounds. Remembering that each of these numbers is a person who is helped by another person is something that we should always remember. Perhaps every Cllr should take this pledge. On at least one afternoon every two months I will spend time with the front line staff. That would mean that our debates were better focused and that our services were better supported