Gig Buddies

Gig Buddies is a project that pairs up people with and without learning disabilities to be friends and to go to music and other events together. The project got started in March 2013 in the East Sussex area. They’re part of the Stay Up Late group of projects.

They regularly recruit new volunteers to buddy up with a person who has a learning disability. At the moment, they’re particularly looking for volunteers in the Eastbourne and Hastings area in East Sussex.

More information here.


When social care retreats

Adult social care is serving fewer people:  and

This is not a welcome retreat of the state from people’s personal and family life, or some assertion of choice and control. Instead, it means:

  • someone losing precious friendships since the day centre closed
  • someone having to fall back on already depleted personal and family resources
  • someone continuing to live in a house that hasn’t been cleaned for weeks
  • someone going without the regular advice they need on keeping warm and well
  • someone who doesn’t get the help they need to take a shower or a bath
  • someone who’s fear and loneliness is greater now that no one calls by
  • someone who loses the advocate and friend who fought for them
  • someone whose carers have had to give up work and friends
  • someone who is much more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

What does it mean to you?

Florence Nightingale was right!

Well it looks like Florence Nightingale was right after all when she subjected her patients to a regime of sunshine and fresh air. An item in this week’s New Scientist cites research confirming the bacteria-killing qualities of these two commodities. The value of sunshine and fresh air is receiving greater attention at a time when the classic antibiotics are becoming less effective. As the article says, “.. perhaps we can prepare for the looming post-antibiotic era by taking some lessons from the pre-antibiotic age.” One of the researchers writes, “Hospitals of the future should be designed to allow windows to be opened and perhaps patients to be pushed outside in their beds.”

The reality for thousands of people in care homes, nursing homes and hospitals is something rather different. Thousands of older people in particular spend most of their days in stuffy, stale, airless environments. It seems to show up a lack of interest in the quality of the physical environment once a person finds themselves ‘in care’. CQC’s Essential Standards of Quality and Safety runs to 274 pages but says little about environments that support physical and mental health. Perhaps it’s time to look at the scientific evidence and revise our view of ‘good care’.

Communication in social care is about power

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists has just issued ‘Five good communication standards .. Reasonable adjustments to communication that individuals with learning disability and/or autism should expect in specialist hospital and residential settings’. It is a helpful document that has relevance beyond hospital and residential settings. Standard 4 is about services creating “opportunities, relationships and environments that make individuals want to communicate”. Here they recognise that ‘communication problems’ derive not just from individual characteristics but also from how people relate to each other: “Good communication needs to be considered broadly. It is about social interactions – greetings, sharing stories and fun. It is the quality of interaction that contributes to overall emotional and mental wellbeing; providing a sense of belonging, involvement and inclusion.” One of the ways in which services will know they have achieved Standard 4 is when “Staff are observed spending time with an individual for no purpose other than interaction and communication.” Continue reading

Do we need to look again at standardisation in social care?


The appeal of standardisation

In human services there are often good reasons to standardise activities. For example, sticking to a standard checklist for operating theatre staff, including checking the identity of the person on the operating table and the procedure that person needs, has been shown to improve the success of operations. There is no reason to quibble with the standardisation of that activity.

In recent years politicians and administrators have been enticed by the idea that almost everything can be standardised allowing them to assess the value and quality of a service in terms of the service’s compliance with set standards. Continue reading

How social care assessments overlook the ‘us’ in families


Martin is recovering from a stroke. He now needs help with activities like dressing, washing, shopping and cooking. Some activities like going to work and driving are right off the agenda. His mobility and communication are impaired and at times he feels useless. But worst for Martin, he feels he is no longer the husband, father, grandfather, friend and colleague he used to be. Continue reading