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Onward and Upward

July 5, 2011

A New Flame

And so the Dilmot Report is out! And, thus far, the responses to its recommendations seem to be pretty positive. Some calling it a blueprint for the future of social care. It will be interesting to see what people make of it when they’ve had time to unpick it all. And, of course, crucially how this influences the future development of the social care system.

However, let’s focus on the bright side, and one of the key things that I’ve picked up on is the concept of introducing a greater degree of certainty and consistency into the mix regarding the costs of care: both in terms of the level people may be expected to contribute to their care costs and a recommendation of ‘standardising’ packages across the country.

This would mean that if someone moves, their care package would go with them; it doesn’t need to be reassessed (which is what happens at the moment. From my own, and many other carers’ viewpoints, knowing more about the salient factors regarding potential costs, procedures and so on has to be a good thing, in terms of  able to make informed decisions if nothing else.

As the role and the timescales are filled with much uncertainty, making it difficult to plan and/or manage the situation, understanding the system is part of the foundation of being able to cope with the challenges. So let’s see how this is all taken forward, in terms of roles, responsibilities, costs, policies and procedures.

The importance of adopting an holisitic approach cannot be overemphasised here, as it is vital that the various components and inter-relationships are considered and assessed to maximise the effectiveness of the proposed developments to the system. Carefully looking at the implications and potential impact on related elements and aspects is also vital to optimise the benefits for those the system is there for.

Redefining the Nettle

July 3, 2011

The Irony of Independence Day

And so tomorrow we will see what the recommendations are from the Dilnot Report and what the potential implications will be.

Nobody seems to dispute that changes need to be made to the system but what can be done, how can it be done, when will it be done and who will do it?

In some respects, the way the system moves forward, it could be argued, defines our society in terms of how effectively it meets the needs of its most vulnerable!

But when resources are in short supply this involves some very tough decisions! I would certainly struggle with all this, as I would be so mindful of being fair and equitable to everyone.

However, the complexity of the task does not preclude the need for a comprehensive reform of the social care  system and consideration of alternative models that can promote inclusiveness, fairness and sustainability!

Tomorrow begins a process that, fingers crossed, will promote debate and discussion as to where things are heading and how! Let’s hope it really does signify a new dawn of independence.

From Here to Where

June 29, 2011

Grasping The Nettle

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a clear idea about where Carers Matters is heading, and how it’s aiming to get there. The thing is, in bigger picture terms, what is going to happen to carers and the people we care for! There is a growing concern and fear about what is going to happen in a climate of cuts and restructuring (and that is putting it mildly!).

It would feel so odd talking about funding bids from our own organisation’s perspective (which was my original intention), so I decided to widen the view for this post! As I see it, there needs to be a radical rethink about the system and how it operates! We have to work together to find a sustainable future where vulnerable people’s needs are met!

There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that being a carer is filled with challenges that will test you. But what is happening  (and going to happen) to the support both for carers and the people we care for? When people are already operating at (and beyond) their maximum capacity, what will happen if they are unable to access support to meet their own needs?

There is obviously a need for answers and solutions but, for me, the key question is concerned with where the responsibility lies. Having established the respective roles and responsibilities, we can then start to find the ways forward and begin to answer the questions that are being asked, because at the moment I am seeing more and more questions and the fear and concern growing!

From where I’m standing, we all have to work together to move things on by working in partnership, never forgetting who the services are for, and establishing open and honest dialogue that strives to make things better. One things for sure, this situation isn’t going to resolve itself, so better to address it now, rather than later.

It’s about the Needs

June 23, 2011

Bottom Up

And so we move on. Having reflected on Carers Week and taken some time out to think about things, the two key areas we are going to investigate further are the training side: helping carers to get online and make the most of the internet and computer recycling.

Clearly there is a need to enable more carers to get online, to access the world that is out there,  because if you’re not online, you’re not a part of it.

So I thought I’d take the opportunity to blog about the process I go through when exploring an idea for a new project.


What is the need and where is the evidence. Have you got statistics national/local to show the need/s your project will respond to?


What aims will your project have (related to the meeting the needs of the ‘why’)


What will the project’s objectives be to realise the aims of the ‘what’

This will inform and catalyse your project method/s (what things you do/service/s you provide)


What outcomes will your project deliver. What will the social impact be?


How much will these activities cost? Important to get accurate figures, as if you are successful this is the money you will have.


What happens when the project ends? Have you thought about the sustainability of the project, if appropriate. If so, what steps will you take?

When I’m happy with the project outline (as per above) I then look at what funding’s out there and seek to match the potential project outcomes with the outcomes the potential funders are looking for to inform what happens next.

Once I feel there is a good match, we move onto the next stage, preparing to write the bid.

Make Hay while the Sun shines

June 21, 2011

From Awareness to Where

And so we are busy developing the next phase of Carers Matters. We might not be particularly prominent in cyberspace at the moment, but, trust me, we are working hard to move things forward.

End of Carers Week, 2011

June 19, 2011

The End of the Beginning

And so Carers Week comes to an end. Many lessons learned and lots of new friends made. The next phase of Carers Matters will commence tomorrow. We will be looking at the next part of the strategic plan to move things forward and consolidate on the developments of the previous week. Hopefully you’ll join u! Ciao 4 Now

Six Days Done

June 18, 2011


Ok so today I decided to talk about what happens after Carers Week is finished! There has been a huge amount of awareness raising during this week, so what happens next, where does the evidence we’ve acquired take us and how?

I’m not just talking about our project, Carers Matters, I’m talking about the bigger picture.

From a community development worker’s point of view, the key thing now after the needs audit is  how the identified needs are going to be met and by whom?


As for Carers Matters, we are going to synthesise the learning into how the site is designed and the general layout. Alongside this, we are going to be using social media in a slightly different way so we can engage in more active dialogue and create a cycle of development for the project to improve it in light of the evidence.

So what about the bigger picture? Well, I guess the bigger fish will work out the best way to progress provision with the research and evidence that has been gathered during this week, supplementing what is already known.

Speaking for myself, I have acquired a much greater awareness, so I feel sure that that applies to many other, more influential people than me 🙂

The Fifth Day

June 17, 2011

Change of Focus

Today I am going to talk about being a carer. It’s something I don’t often talk about, which, in itself, is very telling. Ever since my mum was diagnosed with cancer when I was 16, I have known about caring.

The biggest thing that changed for me was how I looked at life. I experienced a complete paradigm shift and the little things that used to bother me suddenly seemed so very trivial.

On an emotional level, I learned how to shut my feelings down in order to cope. Another interesting development is how people started to turn to me for advice, yet I didn’t really talk about my own feelings much at all!

Anyway, although my mum and dad coped with my mum’s illness and disability, it completely changed my life, so from 16 years of age life was never the same. Basically I was always aware of my mum and her health (or lack of it) and just carried it around with me!

My mum lived for a long time and was something of a miracle in this respect, as we were expecting her to die from cancer, but she lived for like another 27 years. And she didn’t actually die from cancer in the end!

Once my mum died, this left my dad on his own and, as he had been looked after by my mum, in lots of ways we had to start from scratch so he could learn about the things he needed to do to be as independent as he could be.

It’s a very odd experience supporting my dad, but somehow we’ve found a way that works for both of us. I have to say it’s not always easy for either of us, but we manage it as best we can.

A key difference has been the involvement of other people in my dad’s care, after he had a knee replacement. Although not an easy situation at first, having others involved in his care and support, it certainly took the pressure off me and provided my dad with other people to talk to.

OK, so that’s a whistlestop tour of my caring experience and some insights into my feelings about it. Now we are here in 2011 and all these experiences and the learning I’ve acquired has culminated in me starting up this Carers Project, Carers Matters

Day Four

June 16, 2011

Learning from the Evidence

What a week this has been! At the beginning I had no idea what was in store. We did everything we could, in terms of setting up the website in the way we wanted it, and then pressed the button and it went live.

Since then, it has been an amazing journey. The way the blog, twitter and the website intersect and interwine fascinates me

Putting the theory into practice has not been easy, but so far it has worked very well.

The key to it all has been the dialogue and the 2-way traffic. Strangely enough it has been more or less as described on our website @

Each day I have reflected on the evidence and amended how I would deal with things the day after. Observing successful organisations and how they operate has offered brilliant insights into how to move forward, alongside the ongoing dialogue. Wonder what will happen tomorrow?

The Third Day

June 15, 2011

Purple Flower

Ok so today has been a fairly chilled kind of day. Starting to get to understand the carers’ world on twitter, which is real progress. Seeing streams of seemingly disconnected information was starting to confuse me, but now I think I’ve got a handle on how it works.

Keeping the website interesting is proving to be a real challenge. The trick is getting people to click behind the window (home page) so they can access the rich sources of information on the pages.

The idea flowers

But what will make people want to do this. That’s where the skill comes in and making sure the shop window is sufficiently alluring. So much learning in such a small period of time is just amazing! Watch this space for details of the development.