In addition Jonathan also published a new edition of his popular textbook Introducing Social Work SECOND EDITION. This edited volume included chapters by BU academics Dr. Orlanda Harvey (Chapter 26) and Dr. Sally Lee (Chapter 22) as well as an array of internationally renowned social work academics.
Tagged / welfare
The following was hosted by the International Longevity Centre:
The Future of Welfare Consumerism: Future challenges and opportunities of welfare consumerism in health and social care
The rationale for the creation of the welfare state in the post war period was, in large part, because a market approach to welfare had failed. So how can the market and consumerism now be the solution? Despite this philosophical question, for more than two decades welfare consumerism and markets has been and continues to be at the heart of UK health and social care policy. This presents many challenges and opportunities for practitioners, policymakers and researchers alike – particularly concerning older people. Older people are the largest ‘customer’ of welfare services, thus any welfare policy has major ramifications for us all in later life. But what are the important issues? The important issues are basic, but at the same time complex. There is not one welfare market, and with older people not a homogenous group, there are different types and cohorts of consumers.
The basic issue is simple. It is perhaps not comfortable to label welfare as a commodity. A commodity implies a good or service that we purchase to suit a desire. Yet, rarely does welfare satisfy a desire. On the other hand, we access welfare provision because we have a need. Indeed, it is a commodity and market unlike mainstream markets. Whereas mainstream consumers can use their ‘invisible hand’ to navigate markets and access the type or brand of tea, coffee, tablet or laptop that they like, the need to access welfare is characterised by significant information asymmetries, and often complex, vulnerable and emotional circumstances.
Considering these relative complexities, we know remarkably little about how older people act in welfare markets. Although the welfare consumer might have little in common with the mainstream consumer, nevertheless consumer theory provides a platform to outline the more complex challenges for future research and policy.
Implicit in using markets as a means to allocate resources is that consumers are informed and make good quality choices. This in turn requires us to focus on how older welfare consumers become informed – are they adequately informed? Do they seek impartial and independent information and advice (I&A)? How do they act on and use I&A? How can we ensure that I&A services are funded properly and have adequate coverage? These are just some of the broader future challenges and questions that must be addressed.
These are challenges for both health and social care, where the consumerist landscape created by individual budgets and direct payments, first trail blazed in social care (and mostly lobbied for by younger groups), is now being introduced for increasing numbers of older people with chronic and longer term health conditions. Choices of provider and care package/pathway are now and will increasingly be the norm in health and social care.
In addition, my own on-going doctoral study with FirstStop, a third sector provider of information and advice on housing and care issues in later life, acts to highlight another under looked area – housing. Housing may have a longer association with markets and consumerism, yet it is nevertheless a central pillar of welfare. And for good reason – the appropriateness of housing (e.g. preventing falls and fractures in the home as the stereotypical and archetypal example) in later life can be a key determinant of health and wellbeing. In other words, appropriate housing can reduce the likelihood that an older person needs to access health services and social care.
This final point should also chime with the fiscally minded – informed older welfare consumers, through accessing good quality I&A equates to older people making more informed choices about welfare and enables independence. By implication, this means less dependency on welfare – something which, as consumers who will all grow old one day, should be desirable to us all.
The charity Elderly Accommodation Counsel, who run the national FirstStop information and advice network (that enables older people to become informed about housing and care issues and whom my PhD research is with), are in the latter stages of designing a ‘thought leadership’ blog.
As I’m sure you can all imagine, welfare is an area defined by information asymmetries and imperfect levels of information. In other words, it can be hard to make choices around welfare! However, despite this, over the last two decades or more, successive UK governments have pursued consumerist welfare policies that position consumer like choices as the means to access and engage with welfare. However, a great deal of people are relatively or very flawed welfare consumers. On this basis, seeking and being imparted with information and advice is an important mechanism toward making good quality and informed choices. The importance of information and advice around welfare has been acknowledged in the recent Care Act, which has made it mandatory for local authorities to provide information and advice on welfare issues (including housing). Yet, although information and advice is being positioned centre stage, it is a policy area that is devoid of much discussion or debate.
The aim of the blog is for it to become a vibrant place and forum for discussion, comment and analysis around key information and advice issues. The site is still under construction, but if anyone would be interested in contributing short blog pieces, on areas that you think are important, please do get in touch. We hope to get contributions from all sorts of people including academics, policy makers, practitioners etc…
My email address is email@example.com
With working at a university and the rise of the REF, you would have almost certainly come across the terms ‘impact’ and ‘outcomes’. Whilst there might be a great deal of similarity and overlap in the use of these terms, it is important to discuss the sometime subtle differences between ‘impact’ and ‘outcome’. What consequences might this have for the design of social research?
The health and social care literature uses these terms in a rather haphazard manner. The differences are rarely discussed and it can be suggested that many use the wrong terminology. In this blog post on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog, relating to the field of information and advice on welfare issues, I briefly discuss and propose that there are fundamental differences between what an impact refers to and what an outcome refers to. Furthermore, I suggest that these differences are significant and profound enough to align each to opposing research methodologies.
These thoughts relate to the key areas of my PhD project with Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) in London. EAC coordinates the FirstStop service which provides information and advice to older people (and other stakeholders) on housing and care issues. My research is focused on how older people use information and advice on housing and the wider impact that this has.
If anyone has an interest in this area, do get in touch!