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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Social Work with Older People
Article Type: Book review From: Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Volume 13, Issue 3
Author(s): Mo Ray and Judith PhillipsYear: 2012Edition: 5Number of Pages: 198Publisher: Palgrave MacmillanISBN: 0-333-80313-2Price:Reviewer: Barbara Gardner retired medical social workerReview date: 20th April 2012
This is a small introductory text book packed with information. Its target group is social work students and practitioners with the hope that other professionals might find it interesting.
As a retired social worker and someone who is involved with the shared care of an ancient mother, I read the book with both a professional and a service user’s interest. I am out of date in my theoretical knowledge of social work and I was somewhat worried that anything I might say in this review would, be received patronisingly with the response of a care providing manager: “Things have changed so much dear.” Therefore I was greatly relieved to learn from Social Work with Older People that “gerontological social work” values my personal experiences and I am pleased that social workers are being retrained in cognitive therapeutic ways to think positively about the process of ageing. In fact I have gathered from reading this book that recent social policies and their legal frameworks with regard to an ageing population have taken on the language of positivism. I do absolutely accept that discriminatory attitudes need to be challenged.
The reason for this readjustment in language style is, I have learned, due to the demographic time bomb that we talked of in the 1980s, which has now detonated. The exponential curve of aid/finance, when placed over the current demographic distribution graph, results in even fewer people, invariably the now very old, within two years of death and needing care, falling into the parameters of care provision availability. My mother would say “God’s waiting room is getting busier, “and “we were used to living on little in the war dear...”
After reading this book I can: Place my 99-year-old mother in the context of her need for service provision: She lives in a Housing 21 independent living, with continuing care, facility. That means she has a super flat with care workers available for 24 hours a day for those residents with agreed support plans and with emergency help for anyone else... mum has access to one and a half hours of direct care a day but rarely gets it. “But we are not a care home,” is the constant cry. Though built only six years ago with the aim of housing people aged 55+ the average age of resident is 85 and there is a waiting list. There is an outreach office for Social Services on the premises manned by a care provider and four colleagues who organise the team of carers for a wide rural area.I can now confirm that current policy has changed practice: The changing of service availability and the introduction of Personalisation, the move towards choice and autonomy with the right to purchase required services, means that it is no longer a social worker who writes the care plan and reviews it. The care provider writes a ‘personalised support plan’ and she is management trained. It is the awareness of this operational change which underpins this book’s theme that a case has to be made for social work with elderly care. It is no wonder then that the jargon word “managerialist “has been introduced into texts.
Which brings me to my bête noir – this book is not free of jargon and though both authors advocate the need for clarity in communication and recording skills they have failed to recognise that the use of the word “complex” and the phrase “complexity of/in ageing” once said, does not need reiterating a thousand fold. Over use of such words can detract from the clarity of making the case.
I started this review worrying about my outdated knowledge of theory. I can now say having read Social Work with Older People (more than once) that I can probably discuss with the care manger some of the issues of the Personalisation agenda and Safeguarding. I perhaps, can challenge the assumption that autonomy does not translate into the legal right of letting a frail proud person sit in faecal matter. I can seriously look at a person’s capacity to make decisions. I may now, with knowledge, accept partnership and assist with the preparation of an ‘at risk’ assessment in the future. I will be able to argue against the refusal to help a person come to terms with incontinence because that person has a right to refuse incontinence pads. I can promote action for a more dignified older age. Let us start here! Age condemns many men and women to wearing the equivalent of sanitary pads all day and everyday even though there are pull up pants available. This book has referred me the Human Rights Act which sets in law the right for a person to be clean, fed and cared for.... cleanliness and faeces are not compatible.I certainly have gained access to a book that makes available to me the legal framework and the Acts of Parliament that could aid any argument I might have to make in future. I have been brought up to date with Social Policy and have been provided with further reading suggestions. Reference to academic research is manifold.
This book then, has achieved what it set out to do. It has empowered its student by imparting knowledge. It has provided a useful hand book for further reference and has armed me with practical information to tackle any recalcitrant care provider or social worker in the future.