Archives for August 2005

WATCHDOG RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CARE HOMES ACCEPTED BY GOVERNMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 19 August, 2005

Recommendations by the Office of Fair Trading, which aim to improve the experience for older people and their families when they choose to live in care homes, have been accepted by the Government. The recommendations result from a study which was prompted by a complaint in 2003 from the Social Policy Ageing Information Network, whose members include Age Concern, Help the Aged, The Association of Charity Officers, and the Alzheimer’s Society.The OFT found that older people and their representatives face significant problems in finding information about moving into a care home, often at a time of difficult and distressing circumstances. The recommendation that there should be a single information point for information has been accepted and a central one-stop-shop will be set up to provide clear and comprehensive information to help people choose care for themselves or relatives. The shop will be part of DirectGov.

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ON LEADERSHIP

Book News, PublicNet: 18 August, 2005

By James MarchThe author uses great works of literature to explore the problems of leadership including: War and Peace, Othello, and Don Quixote. He presents moral dilemmas related to leadership, for example the balance between private life and public duties, and between the expression and the control of sexuality. He encourages readers to explore ideas that are sometimes subversive and unpalatable but may allow organizations to adapt in a rapidly changing world. This is a book for leaders, and for those who watch leaders with appreciation, distaste, empathy, and frustration. He shakes the foundations of how we think about leadership. The book will not offer six easy steps to becoming an effective leader, but it will provoke, amuse, challenge, and irritate. It will force a re-think about leadership in ways that will destroy innocence.

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MODEST PROGRESS IN TACKLING HEALTH INEQUALITIES

Headlines, PublicNet: 18 August, 2005

Action to reduce the inequalities in health between groups of people is delivering results in some of the gap areas, but not in others. This report from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister focuses on the steps being taken to narrow the health gap by improving the health of the poorest fastest.There has been a narrowing of the gap in death rates from circulatory disease and improvements in death rates from cancer. There has been almost a 10% drop in the rate of under-18 conceptions from 1998 and taking a longer period from 1994 teenage conception rates in the most deprived top tier of local authorities fell faster than in other areas.

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INSIGHTS INTO EXCLUSION SHAPING ACTION PLANS

Headlines, PublicNet: 18 August, 2005

The new action plans for Government Departments for tackling social exclusion will be based on feedback from almost 1000 people who were asked what public services could make a real difference to their lives. The research was part of the Social Exclusion Unit’s work programme to improve the life chances of the worst off in society. The Unit also asked those providing public services how they might make their services work more effectively for disadvantaged groups.Social exclusion is a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas face a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, discrimination, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, bad health and family breakdown. These problems are linked and each factor reinforces the other so that they can create a vicious cycle in people’s lives. The research provided an up-to-date picture of social exclusion and identified the key problems that are driving it. They are low educational attainment, economic inactivity, concentrations of worklessness, health inequalities, crime, poor quality environments and homelessness.

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SETTING PUBLIC SERVICE OUTCOME TARGETS: LESSONS FROM LOCAL SERVICE AGREEMENTS

Abstracts, PublicNet: 17 August, 2005

By George A. Boyne and Jennifer LawPublic agencies in the UK and elsewhere are increasingly required to set outcome targets as a strategy for improving their services. A crucial element of this ‘results orientation’ is a clear definition of the desired outcomes and a specification of appropriate performance indicators. A recent example of this policy in the UK-Local Public Service Agreements is examined in this article. The authors’ analysis of the first generation of LPSAs shows that just under half of the indicators used were measures of outcome. The authors explain the ‘wicked’ issues in outcome measurement that emerged from the research.

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BETTER INFORMED HOUSE BUYERS LEADING TO UNDESIGNED OUTCOME

Headlines, PublicNet: 17 August, 2005

The emergence of neighbourhood information websites providing detailed area data could widen the gap between rich and poor and create a wider digital divide. The new systems with details of the best schools or lowest crime figures could lead to a more segregated society and help house buyers to choose areas with the kind of existing residents they would most want as neighbours. The warning comes from a report ‘Neighbourhoods on the Net’ commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.In the United States neighbourhood websites enable users to search for neighbourhoods that match their prioritised criteria, using extensive, zip-coded data sets compiled by market research companies. Equivalent websites in the UK do not yet offer neighbourhood searches by ranked characteristics, but a number of commercial sites feature information collected by postcode; while the Government’s own Neighbourhood Statistics website provides statistical, demographic and environmental information on neighbourhoods.

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AUDIT COMMISSION GOES COMMERCIAL

Headlines, PublicNet: 17 August, 2005

As hospitals become foundation trusts and move into the area of profit and loss, the Audit Commission is threatened with a loss of business. Hospitals may prefer auditors well versed in the commercial accounting world to those concerned about whether public money is spent economically, efficiently, and effectively in the areas of local government, housing, health, criminal justice and fire and rescue services. The Commission is responding to the challenge by changing and adapting and ensuring that auditors have commercial expertise, experience and knowledge.So far 31 trusts have gained Foundation Trust status and a further 32 trusts are eligible to apply for the next phase of authorisations due from 1 April 2006. The trusts are tailored to the needs of local populations and run by local managers, staff and members of the public. The Health and Social Care Act 2003 establishes NHS foundation trusts as independent public benefit corporations modelled on co-operative and mutual traditions. The first foundation trusts were authorised by Monitor, the regulator, from 1 April 2004.

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EVALUATING THE IMPACT OF CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Abstracts, PublicNet: 16 August, 2005

Continuing professional development is widely acknowledged to be of great importance in the life of schools, contributing to professional and personal development for staff and to improvement in teaching and learning. The research showed that it was taking place in all the schools surveyed. Participant satisfaction is a key element in development, but it was only evaluated in 35% of schools. Value for money was evaluated in 51% of schools. The least frequently evaluated aspect was change in pupil attitude with only 24% of schools carrying out an evaluation. The types of evaluation employed by schools were found to be restricted by their interpretation of CPD. The narrower the interpretation, the more basic the forms of evaluation employed. CPD leaders reported feeling unprepared for the role. They also highlighted that learning from experience was better preparation for the role than formal preparation opportunities.The report is available at: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR659.pdf

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COUNCILS COULD DO MORE TO PROMOTE WEBSITES

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 August, 2005

A survey by the Society of IT Management reveals that most users of council websites find what they are looking for by using Google. Some 25% visit the site because they work for the council and another 18 % guess the address. Only some 20% visit a site because of promotional activity.The survey also showed that an estimated 11.4m visitors came to local government websites in May 2005. This is about 10% of the population, but more than 20% of those who use the Internet.

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VOLUNTARY SECTOR STRATEGY GETS GREEN LIGHT

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 August, 2005

ChangeUp, the strategy for building capacity and providing an infrastructure framework for the Community and Voluntary and sectors, is now being fully implemented following an injection of funding from the Home Office. ChangeUp’s aim is that by 2014 the needs of frontline voluntary and community organisations will be met by support which is available nationwide and offers provision that reflects and promotes diversity.The strategy is based on the creation of six hubs of support. The National Council of Voluntary Organisations has responsibility for the governance, workforce and ICT hubs. It will lead on initiatives to improve the governance of voluntary and community organisations in England at national, regional and local level. It will help enhance the skills and knowledge of the sector’s 750,000 trustees and hundreds of thousands of committee members and increase the governance capacity of organisations. It also aims to encourage more people from across diverse communities and those outside the sector to become trustees by promoting the role as a valuable part of active citizenship.

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