Challenge Newsletter Spring 2016: Care Act-ion!

Vivien Cooper, CEO of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, introduces the Spring Newsletter, on the theme of the Care Act. You can download a pdf copy of the newsletter, or read it online. To sign up to the e-newsletter, use the sign-up form on the right of this screen. Order a hard copy by emailing, or calling 01634 838739.



Could, should, must, or might?


When Daniel was little he had to go into hospital for a minor operation. It was a complete nightmare. He couldn’t sit still, he rushed about all over the place, and was uncooperative. Staff soon asked me to take him home, rather than staying the night as they had planned.  A nurse said to me, ‘He’s a real handful isn’t he? You must get lots of support with him at home.’ Of course, the answer was no. Daniel went to school, and very occasionally went to respite, but when he was at home we were just left to get on with things as best we could. Most people assume, as I previously did, that “the system” swings into action to provide coordinated support, and that there is a planned approach to deliver the right support at the right time, in the right place.

I quickly became aware that this was not the case – far from it. The “system” is made up of laws, policy and guidance interpreted in various ways and often delivered from a crisis management approach. There are things that could be done (innovative ways of working), things that should be done (things that we know work), things that must be done (because the law says so), and things that might be done (it’s optional).

This issue of Challenge focuses on the Care Act and the Children and Families Act – two major pieces of recent legislation that attempt to streamline many previous laws. Within these there are real opportunities to work differently, to be joined up and “seamless.” These Acts provide the background framework to deliver support and services to disabled children and adults, and their families.

But it won’t “just happen.” This major shift in working will need to be managed and resourced – and families will need good information about what it means for them and their relative. Against a background of cuts, the temptation is to focus only on the “must dos.” But looking at the “could, should and might dos” may be a much more sensible, cost-effective approach that will ultimately deliver better outcomes. Law and policy provide the framework – but it is the delivery and implementation of it that is key.

As the Transforming Care work for children and adults with learning disabilities whose behaviour is described as challenging moves into the delivery of the Hospital closure plan, there is an opportunity to join all of this up – along with other policy initiatives such as the Integrated Personalised Commissioning pilots. But many families have little interest in policy, pilots and plans. What is important is practice.

Words on paper are important, but it is translating them into action that makes a real difference to people’s lives – and that is the challenge. These laws and policies could be a real opportunity to get things right across children and adults’ support and services. They should enable education, health and social care to work more closely together around individuals and their families. They must ensure that families get the timely support they need. And then they might make a real difference to people’s lives.


Vivien Cooper OBE

Chief Executive and Founder of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation


Articles from the Newsletter:

Introduction to the Care Act

How to challenge a decision

Getting the best from your Carer's Assessment

My hopes for the Care Act: a family carer perspective



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