What a pain in the neck

my friend Darcy Jones has a search engine problem
THIS is the story
Good news on-line can and will be traded on for as long as possible.. If you get a glowing review or a hugely flattering reference on-line,who wouldn’t exploit it for as long as possible…perhaps neglecting to point out the date of the reference,to keep it current…
However,if you are stuck with an adverse criticism it is ALSO there for ever it seems.
Long after the event to which it refers,the “search engine” finds and presents it as relevant and current knowledge.
..as far as the Local Gazette on-line is concerned Darcy is forever tainted as the “disgraced” Otseopath… forever accused as the incompetent.. Darcy took his supsension. ( a technicality of not providing an up front diagnosis survey?) and moved on, practising as an expert and effective Osteopath…
However,should someone in the area be looking on-line for effective treatment for back pain,possibly having been recommended to Darcy, and put, “Darcy Jones” and “Osteopath in the locality” into *search* they get a link to a damning ,vindictive sounding piece on a local paper’s web-site. The author sounds like he thinks he is unmasking the next Harold Shipman and or gunning for a job on the News Of The World or the Daily Mail!..
Well, the News Of The World no longer exists! and this nasty little piece need no longer exist either!
Darcy served his four month suspension,addressed the short-comings and bad practise that he was found guilty of,and moved on,having tightened up his diagnosis routine and patient pre-treatment survey practises.
This event occurred in 2009.. over THREE years ago. Darcy proceeded to treat many patients expertly and effectively ,bringing invaluable relief from pain,and improved quality of life…
Darcy is an enterprising person,and has other “strings to his bow” . He has spoken to me,and has a semi-pro “web-master” who works on his web-sites and on-line presence in general..but,of course the Local Gazette story is still there on line,possibly stymying his business.
When he approached the paper asking them if the “statute of limitations” had surely expired on this “story” , their response was tantamount to BLACKMAIL..they said they would take the reference down only if he took out several thousand pounds worth of advertising with them..(sounds like blackmail to me.)
What does the Local Gazette on-line POSSIBLY gain by leaving this out of date piece of information on it’s web-site? It was ONLY relevant to would be users of Darcy’s services as an Osteopath for the duration of the FOUR MONTH BAN in 2009!
They do not seem willing to comply with his reasonable request to remove the content . Maybe they feel that all the while they keep it that they have a bargaining chip to get some advertising revenue out of him?.. Indeed ,in the past Darcy has taken out full-page ads in the paper..but recently,partly due ,possibly to this adverse publicity ,Darcy cannot afford to pay for such advertising,and why would he anyway,after the contempt that he seems to be held in by the Gazette…
There are two-sides at least ,as they say, to every story.. i am NOT going to repeat any of what darcy told me about his “accuser” the plaintiff if you will,the “pain-stricken pensioner”
that the Gazette piece refers to…but,as i said,it would be no skin off the nose of the Gazette to remove this now Irrelevant piece of information about my friend Darcy.
So,what next?
A concerted effort of “good news” with a considerable “click rate” would push the article DOWN the listings..but how many articles and links and recommendations POST 2009 will it take to push it off the first page of results? and how long would that take? Maybe i should contact “anonymous” via twitter and request a “hack attack”? Ha Fuckin Ha

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The Crisis in Elderly Care it’s not getting any better

The Southern Cross fiasco has an air of inevitability about it for me
I feel the urge almost to gloat…this is the perfect storm of what makes my blood boil…the unsustainability of the “private” care home business,and the “financial wizardry” of those oh so clever assholes ,the private venture capital expertise that , not satisfied with any degree of altruism going forward, attempted to “make back” the capital investment by ,effectively selling peoples homes out from under them,only to be stung mercilessly by the extortionate rents that the greedy bastards they sold them to have ,year on year, attempted to extract….All in the name of greedy moneymaking,but bound up in the stupid stock exchange mess that could well see some of the more financially astute among the population of the care-homes actually owning shares in the Landlord companies within their own share portfolios!

“Granny Farming” as a close friend started to refer to it in the late nineties, began a decade earlier under Thatcher and Major..
Tax breaks for second businesses or whatever led to many of the sort of place I used to work at…find and convert an ex-farmhouse..put in a lift ..fill it with hopefully as many of the widowed or spinster ancients sitting in bungalows in the locale now valued in the millions ,with the acreage …and ,increasingly,of course those of more modest means ,who’s care was and still is subsidised to greater or lesser degrees by the LOCAL AUTHORITY.and ,crucially for those with a “Nursing Home” registration,the NHS.. Yes that very same local authority who have,as a result of the banking bail-out etc been instructed to do everything they do at the moment for ,on average, 50 million less per year…this funding “tug of war” between Health and Local Government is supposedly being addressed at the moment…
Back in the late eighties the future looked bright …blue horizons .the county still seemed to have a rich vein of little old ladies in bungalows…and of course this model for a small 20 to 30 bed Nursing Home,where “continual care” 24 hr “nursing care” is funded from the NHS has remained ,largely sustainable
In my county “residential care” is still under the direct auspicious of the county council..i am a county employee…In ’97 a privatising deal was on the table,being worked towards..with the change of Government,the political tide changed. We breathed a sigh of relief when the privatising deal was scrapped and we remained a public body.Our cache should be rising at this point!
Instead , we know what is happening to Local Authority budgets,we’ve got our work cut out like never before.
More than ever ,the publically run regulated and accountable service model looks the right way. We are in the minority in this respect…and the Southern Cross disaster will surely not be the last “financial crisis to hit a chain of private care homes.
It’s not comforting to us that in this age of “private consultancy” fixing the Public services,that an ex-employee of Southern Cross,is in charge of the “restructuring” of our service to accommodate the cuts!
The “Southern Cross” type companies are “dual registration”. If a service user needs subsidy for “residential care” that is “personal care”..help with washing and dressing ..short of “medical” care.Then they are means tested. The local authority subsidises them to a greater or lesser degree.
Obviously,for the likes of the stupidly greedy Southern Cross,the gravy train has run out of track. The local authorities were already putting a cap on subsidies that was beginning to impinge on the upper levels of the private homes profit margins, and in the case of Southern Cross their oh so clever money-making business model has become wholly unsustainable…
The CEO says that earlier this year the business was more “cash positive”..more deaths due to flu at Christmas? Greater throughput? …and of course that the care delivered “ will not be impaired” ..yes that’s because those workers are on about £13,000 ,have an empathy and aptitude for the job and are generally NOT selfish greedy bastards.
Well, now,with the local authority subsidy capped,and even reduced.they just cannot squeeze enough bloody cash out of their current crop of grannies and grandpas…
What self-respecting,right-thinking care-manager,would be placing someone in a Southern Cross home right now? In the knowledge that someone who may have just had to completely “realise their assets” ie ,sell their property ,to pay £900 a week for their care could be potentially throwing there lot in with a bankrupt company,looking for a set of buyers and or bail-out by the tax-payer?..Surely,they are dead in the water.
Why,short of a Government bail-out should their creditors and Landlords waive their own share-holders profits and write off their debts? A sudden attack of altruism and compassion from the world of finance? I don’t think so.
Don’t forget ,we are talking 31,000 people the population of a town like Newbury Berkshire,near where the Middletons live…..largely in at least their seventh and eigth decades..these are the people who were told that they could expect to be cared for from the “Cradle to the Grave”..they fought the Nazis..they saw the Welfare State created ,and ,from the eighties to the present,day gradually dismantled..where now ,more than ever, even complete financial security does not even secure a safe ,caring environment to live in…
As I run through this litany I find it harder than ever to believe that our county service is being squeezed and potentially degraded by cuts to budgets that ,following the Dilnot report on funding for elderly care,may look completely indefensible.
Will we ever ,as a society get our priorities right again?

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The Crisis in Elderly Care Provision

It seems there is no going back now,and all local authorities are saddled with the big “front-loaded” cuts that the Government has decided have to be made.

Given that the budget for the Elderly Care service has always seemed to be “austere”,that the elderly frail and demented population is set to rise exponentially over the next decade or so ,given that provision is patchy and in some cases barely adequate now anyway. How can we justify ANY cuts in this area,that patently needs MORE investment?
An ex-Nurse who does our on-going “moving and handling” training,was saying that a care-home local to her ,was having to lose 400 plus “care-hours”..how can the service possibly be maintained to the same level?
The short-cuts and under-staffing that has characterised the Private Sector providers,especially on night-shifts,is now having to be advocated by the Public sector,thus encouraging the Private sector to cut-corners all the more. The sad facts are that moving into a care-home will become even more of a lottery as to the quality of care provided .
The workforce are currently being squeezed from all directions.
There is a public sector pay freeze overall. Weekend pay is being cut wether we like it or not.Maybe this is just a change in the working time culture? Saturday and Sunday are regular working days for an increasing number of the working population anyway.We will just have to accept this,obviously,but none of us were asking for a pay RISE In the first place. Just adequate “tools” to carry on doing the job.
Throughout what I might laughingly refer to as “my career” ,elderly residential,and now,increasingly dementia care has remained the “Cinderella service”..a patchwork of funding ,with a range of provision which is inconsistent in quality…
Only requiring the minimum of qualifications ,with relatively low pay.(Typically,around £8 an hour these days)The job of care-assistant for elderly residential care, despite what we know to be the personally fulfilling nature of the job, has remained largely low-status, not attracting graduates or many men. Seen as a “second-job”..the hours are flexible,but therefore quite often “part-time” . However,these factors are also virtues in that staffing mainly comes from the immediate locality and ,our unit ,like many across the County remains a vital asset to the local community. Witness the presence today, as I write,of a large number of us at two Funerals for local women,who both lived into their late nineties,under our care.
At our unit currently,three people in their mid-nineties have been reunited ,having known each-other at junior school!
In relation to this,i have recently been made aware of a BUPA report that shows the impending crisis in elderly care beds. With private homes in many cases not able to commercially withstand a lack of increase in local funding. It projects a shortfall of 81 to 100,000 “care” beds. With the NHS comprehensively “bed-blocked” across the Country as a result. The average Care Home bed ranges from £400 to £900 a week.Pretty steep anyway.
The same person,forced by lack of places to stay in an NHS bed costs around £1800 a week!
What IS the latest thinking on long-term care for the elderly? The last serious ideas seem to have been those of Andy Burnham the last Labour Health Secretary..Then of course we had all the “Death Tax” rubbishing as the Election Campaign took over ,and the whole issue seems to have been comprehensively “kicked into the long grass” once again. Surely we need a “National Elderly Care Service” funded by us all in some way?
Given that the economy WILL pick up over the next three to four years . Is there any “light at the end of the tunnel” for elderly care provision?
Will there be a restoration of funding to the local authorities?
If no ,then just what are we working towards? Bumbling on with the service deteriorating with overstressed staff effectively doing the same job and more, for less?
Or can we just count ourselves out of the equation altogether as Central Government urges Local Government to privatise and ,as I would see it ,down-grade all these essential services? This seems an unlikely prospect in light of the BUPA report..What financial incentives are there for private investment,when the funding is reliant on Local Government subsidy, and that is being reduced? It just does NOT add up.?
What are the prospects ,should they need 24 hr care for your parents ,or mine..or those of your neighbours and friends?
What are the black and white facts about the money available?
I read that £2Bn has been allocated, to be ring-fenced for elderly care. Central Government have instructed Local Government to do this,despite the general encouragement now NOT to ring-fence,and to allow more flexibility for Local Government to allocate funds.
The Local authorities are being asked to find average across the board cuts of roughly £55million..an “adult services” budget is typically £60 million ..if £2bn has been ring-fenced to preserve the increasing demands of elderly care across the Country then why are elderly care services being squeezed at all? The savings involved are in the hundreds of thousands..we are talking about thousands of Millions being allocated?
The £2Bn Spread over ,400 Local Authorities ,would mean roughly FIVE million extra for each.Adult Services.dept to start with.
Plus,if Local Authorities have any contingency funds, then why are they not using them now? What other disaster or crisis are they waiting for? Just what ARE the Local and Central Government officials up to.?
We have reached a crisis point in elderly care provision..it needs MORE funding not less.
Chris Morrell

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