Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Future of Social Care.....

I’ve been absent from my Blog for a while but now I am back and raring to write! It has been quite a hectic year for learning disabilities as ARC’s member organisations will know:
  • In January Valuing People Now came out which was a new and improved Valuing People, there was a lot of comment on this in the press but I think the best part of it was the promise to focus on PMLD, minority communities and try to promote more employment.
  • Then in July the Government published ‘Shaping the Future of Care Together’ the long-awaited green paper on the future of adult social care. The consultation: The Big Care Debate is currently running and will finish on 13 November 2009.
There has been a lot of speculation about whether the suggestions in the paper are practical, the most vocal argument, coming from the social care sector, is the discounted suggestion of taxation to pay for the proposed National Care Service. The reason given is that it wouldn’t be fair for the smaller ‘young’ population to be paying for the care of the older, larger population. It was also disappointing that learning disabilities were hardly mentioned. But, wouldn’t you be willing to pay extra tax knowing that your relative would be able to stay at home (where research has proved that people stay healthier for longer in their own surroundings) instead of being put in a home. We have great assistive technology, a varied workforce willing to provide support on your terms (See Personal Assistants Net website for info) and networks already in place to share information. I personally think that I’d rather spend my working life paying into a system that provides social care when it’s needed rather than see someone I love have to sell their home just to pay for a room in a nursing home. But that’s just me.

On a completely different note the ARC website is changing. We want to find out exactly what you, our members, need from the website and what kind of service we can provide to make your jobs (and lives) easier. I’ll be attending this year's ARC Annual Conference in November, which is in association with the LDC, to find out how we can improve our website. It’s very exciting. I can’t wait to start hammering away on my Mac, culling old pages left right and centre, and adding new pages and images. I’m told we might even be able to have podcasting and there are plans to add a shopping basket (making booking events and buying publications much easier) and a photo album for the FOCUS photography competition entries.

So it’s a time of high change at ARC and I know we should be great at change since we are the association for real CHANGE. But the daunting part is heading off in the right direction, one that benefits our members, providing them with an excellent service that gives value for money in a time when we’re all struggling. I’m going to be trying out the new web software we will be using for the NEW ARC site at home. I’ve been threatening to create a website about my dogs Murphy and Bailey for ages, so this is the perfect opportunity to show off my doggies and get skilled up at the same time!

I’m off to Disneyland Paris this weekend, my new hubby and I are having a Mini-honeymoon and you’ll all have to get used to my new name. Hello Mickey and bye bye Chesterfield (for now) I’m going to really miss the dogs though…

Friday, 24 April 2009

ARC Events

Well this week has been absolute madness!

We have events, events and more events coming up in the ARC schedule. I have (so far) advertised 19 new events on the ARC website and there are ten more LDQ Update days in East Midlands still to add.

The ARC Training Programme
We have organised a series of one-day training events on Dementia, Epilepsy, Handling Medication in Social Care Settings both regular and Train the Trainer, Talking About Money Train the Trainer and Mental Capacity Act DOLS regulations in various places throughout England. These events are running in May, June and July with limited places on each, they're basically essential training for people working with people with learning disabilities.

Moving in Planning Ahead
…. managing money can be challenging for everybody and especially for youngsters managing their money and planning living independently the first time can be difficult. We are all confronted with money issues and even understanding the meanings of some banking words seems to be difficult.

Our Training Manager Shirley Potter is at the moment busy in preparing a MOVING ON PLANNING AHEAD training course. This is part of a FSA funded project and the training takes people with learning disabilities and their supporters through information about living independently and what that really means including how they can and will pay for things, the support they can get and any benefits they can get. The first pilot sessions will be in May and I hope that with this training we can help people with learning disability planning for their future.

Lester Aldridge NEW LAW SERIES
The really exciting events that are happening in May but we'll get more dates later on are the Lester Aldridge Legal Seminars. These half-day events are for ARC members to pick the brains of the Employment Legal team from Lester Aldridge. The first of three of these series is on dealing with employment issues in a recession and they'll be held in Sheffield and Reading.

Find out about all these new events on the Events Section on the ARC website

Thursday, 16 April 2009

April Update

Well, a lot has been happening over the past few weeks at home and at work so here’s an update on what I’ve been working on recently.

Leicester Moving on Up Fun Day

Tuesday 17th March saw myself, Bridget and Simon travelling to Leicester to help out on a Moving on Up Funday for kids with learning disabilities who may also be from an ethnic minority. The Moving on up fundays started out from the Moving on Up project which is an information website designed to help young people move through the transition to adulthood with a greater understanding of what they can do with their lives. The project also developed two training packs for young people and professionals.

Think about how difficult going through transition was when it happened to you. Friends went to different schools or colleges or got jobs, they made new relationships and it’s hard to cope with the changes that are happening to your body let alone worrying about where your BFF is going to be in a month’s time and whether you’ll even keep in touch. Now think about how hard it is for someone with a learning disability whose friends will probably also have learning disabilities and they may not have the same opportunities to get a job or study further. Couple that with a family that may not speak English or have a lot of connections within their local community and you get a very frightening time indeed.

The Moving on Up project is aimed at tackling some of these issues by making sure that young people with learning disabilities from BME communities know what options are available to them. The fundays are a way of learning whilst enjoying the company of kids from other schools, colleges and day centres and for their teachers to network with organisations in the area who may be of use to the kids when they move on. I loved helping out in Leicester. I used to be a supply drama teacher and I am used to secondary school aged kids being obnoxious and not bothering to join in so inevitably when someone running a workshop asks for a volunteer I’m thinking ‘uh oh’ and then I am always surprised and delighted that so many kids jump up. That’s the beauty of these people they always want to have a go.

Leicester was the last of a series of fundays, organised by Lesley, which were highly successful. The feedback we got was great – the kids had a great time, the information was useful, the workshops fun and interesting and the lunchtime entertainment fantastic. I enjoyed myself immensely and hope that if some of the kids see what opportunities are available and take hold with both hands then we’ll have done a good job.

The Moving on Up website

We are in the process of adding and improving the Moving on Up website which will be completed by 23 April 2009. So check it out and feel free to give feedback on the information there

Revamping the ARC website

The ARC website is undergoing a facelift and you should see some big improvements on the way information is laid out within the site. I’ve started by jazzing up the news pages. It came to my attention that the news pages are a bit plain (to say the least) and that we should take inspiration from the BBC news website with images, links and concise information. A lot of news crosses my desk every day and it’s nice to pull out some key stories for visitors to the site to look at and since there are so many developments at ARC it’s a great page to keep people up to date with that too. Visit our News page.

My next big task is to tackle the Training Section. We moved the ARC Training Consortium from Evesham last year and now that they have settled in it’s time we reflected some bigger changes on the website. The new-look Training section will be broken down into the various awards that you can study through ARC, will be easy to navigate and will contain links to all the standards you will need. We’re going to publish the changes (hopefully) in May as at the end of this year the landscape of qualifications are changing with the introduction of the Qualifications and Credit Framework – see Skills for Care Information here.

Finally before the end of May I should have completed a whole new section of the site – ARC Projects. We are involved in a lot of projects at ARC and these projects help change the lives of people with learning disabilities in a positive way. The ARC Projects section will feature ARC’s projects with links to partner organisations, publications and websites and provide information on what these projects have achieved. It is a very exciting time at ARC as we have just received funding for two new three-year projects!

Second Issue of Changing Perspectives is finally published

The Communities issue of our member’s magazine has been published. We send the issue out by email to all our member subscribers. This issue took a while to complete as we wanted to include an interesting United Response article on Community Mapping. I had a great deal of fun writing about what I do at ARC for the ARC In Focus feature and I also interviewed a girl with mild learning disabilities who is highly involved in her local community. We are really pleased with the issue and so far feedback has been good. For more information on Changing Perspectives click here.

Time off for Easter

I have had a break over Easter as my Dad was in hospital with quite a serious problem. Thankfully everything is all right now and he is back at home. I think I might have unnerved him a little as I read the King’s Fund’s paper Seeing the Person in the Patient, an informative and interesting document, a short while ago so was worried about him being treated badly. He wasn’t expecting me to badger him with questions like ‘do you know who is in charge?’ and ‘don’t let them pass you around like a parcel!’ not what you want from your daughter when you’re sharing a ward with stroke victims who aren’t fully aware of where they are and like to shout out all night! Anyway I am back on track at work now so keep an eye out for more blog entries.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Handling Medication in Social Care Settings Train the Trainer Course

There are still some places left on the ARC Handling Medication in Social care Settings Train the Trainer course. It will take place on Tuesday 10 March 2009 at ARC House, Chesterfield. Please email Shirley for information and to book onto the course.

For more information on the various training that ARC offers visit our website and click on the training pages. Alternatively contact Shirley Potter on 01246 555043.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Changing Perspectives

It has been a hectic month so far and next week it's going to be even busier for me as I am helping out on two Moving on Up Together days. These days are part of a transitions project we are currently working on at ARC which is to help young people with learning disabilities learn more about the opportunities available to them after leaving school. This project is mainly aimed at people from a black or minority community as these communities don't always have great access to information on services.

I'll be going to Tower Hamlets on 23 February and Bradford on 27 February so it'll be a tiring, travel packed week with no rest in between. But the last fun day I went to in Luton, was a LOT OF FUN and I met some interesting teens, had my hand henna painted and took part in African Dancing. So i'm actually looking forward to it. If you would like to learn more about the Moving on Up project then visit our website which we are currently updating.

The reason January and February have been so hectic is because I have been working on the second issue of our member's magazine Changing Perspectives. The second issue looks at Communities and how organisations are trying to get people with learning disabilities involved and included. There are some excellent articles written by ARC members and LD organisations and I think it's going to be a great issue.

Don't forget that if you're a member of ARC then you'll get a copy of Changing Perspectives by email when it is finished but only if you have a login and password - you can contact me if you haven't got one but would like one.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Welcome to the ARC Info Blog

Hi I'm Nic the Information Officer at the Association for Real Change (ARC). I've set up this blog so that I can share news and general issues of interest from the field of Learning Disabilities, developments at ARC and share my opinion.

So first of all I just want to write a little about what I do at ARC. I started my job in June 2008 and this is my first job in the social care sector - so I ask you to forgive the gaps in my knowledge! I am responsible for compiling the weekly newsletter 'The Weekly Despatch,' editing web pages on the ARC website and more recently i've been working on the ARC e-zine Changing Perspectives - this is the most exciting part of my job at the moment as I get to write articles, ask 'experts' to write for us and watch the whole issue coming together - it feels great!

Of course a lot of this is for ARC's members, I wouldn't have a job if it weren't for these organisations, so if you're part of an organisation that supports people with a learning disability and you're not a member of ARC get signing up now! If you are a member - thanks!

I hope this has given you a short background into what I do at ARC and the sort of thing i'll be talking about in my future posts.