A bit of culture.

Well now. Much has been written about Mazars report into Southern Health’s failings.   The anguish and eloquent anger of LB’s family has touched me greatly.  Their poise and determination in the face of brutal onslaughts is amazing.

In the last 20 years as a social worker I have seen brilliant practice.  I have seen appalling practice. I have seen lives transformed.  I have seen lives destroyed.  Over the last few months I have had particular cause to reflect on what it is that determines how people are treated by organisations.


That’s it.  Pure and simple.  Culture dictates attitude. Attitude dictates quality of service.  Culture is determined by leadership.  Large health organisations and social services departments are top-down organisations.  Hierarchical wilderbeasts, stampeding in discombobulating circles at the whim of their political drivers.

Such frenzied behaviour is destroying services.  It is ruining lives. Its prime focus is on the survival of the organisation. Accountability and responsibility appear to have been crushed in the crass new world of managerialism.  Populate the spreadsheets, present the data, please the politicians. Whether the figures are accurate is not the point.  The figures must be pleasing.  Departments must be under-budget. The workers must be toiling harder, faster.

Quality?  Who cares?

There cannot be a single social worker in the country who has not pointed out to their managers that if their authority had adequate administrative staff and effective IT systems they would be freed up to engage in community based preventative practice, instead of sitting in front of a screen most of the day. We even give them a financial reason to agree with us: prevention is cheaper than cure.  Yet when social workers present managers with this truth, they are dismissed as ‘old-school’ or ‘resistant’.  Why aren’t managers succeeding in persuading politicians to let social workers do what they are trained to do?  Are their arguments ignored? Or are they so far removed from understanding the needs of people using the services that the very values that brought them into social care are forgotten?

Service users and carers who complain are branded ‘challenging’. Workers who raise concerns about safety and inadequate practice are victimized, isolated, forced out.  The survival  of the organisational hierarchy is paramount. Southern Health are not alone in their dangerous adherence to the totally flawed belief that managerialism must be right.

Enough now. Organisations must stop blithely spouting the jargon of vision and values, and start believing that the people who use their services actually do matter. Frontline workers already know and believe this, and all they want is to be able to do their best to support them.


2 thoughts on “A bit of culture.”

  1. This ‘culture’, is dictated, by the system which is created by the politics, now of three successive governments.

    That politics, is to make as much profit, as possible from our public money and our public service.

    As with all large organisations, the Social Services departments have been managerialised, and all autonomy removed, especially from the social workers, who now in Adult Services, are replaced by Service Managers, who merely oversee, on a tick box basis institutional provision.

    No one is accountable under the system, if a formal complaint is made, it is often drawn out, and then silenced by court proceedings.

    The service users encaged in their care homes, cannot in any event complain, and their relatives are in a perilous position, as they can, and are excluded from visiting.

    More and more social workers are on zero hours, or on temporary contracts, and have a totally prescribed role and remit ,and are at the mercy of management.

    I think it is Kent, who has nearly all social workers, who are immigrants from the EU.

    Social Workers, are now effectively deskilled enforcers, who enforce all the disabled into institutions via COP proceedings, and in child protection into adoption and fostering.

    The lack of support for disabled families and vulnerable parents, is not due to austerity, when on average £4500 is paid per week to private venture capital, to ‘care’ for a LD/autistic, who should not be there, and similarly £30,000 to private adoption agencies per the adoption of babies, and 1400 per week to private fostering .

    This is about turning our welfare services, into efficient money making unaccountable factories, providing no service other than that, that is a future income for eventually venture capital.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s