I’ve reached that point in the semester when first year students are as concerned about their academic writing and referencing as about the content of their modules. After an initial settling-in period, and a few weeks spent figuring out the focus of the course, they’ve realised these are skills they need to acquire. This year I’m taking a more proactive approach to the development of writing and referencing by offering ‘enrichment’ sessions at strategic points in the semester. Today therefore, instead of teaching module content, I’ve given a lecture on referencing and run a writing support group.
‘Consistency’ was a running theme in the sessions today. I was conscious, for example, that my input on Harvard referencing (of which there are various interpretations) had to be consistent with University guidelines and the advice given by my colleagues. There is nothing more likely to confuse students than mixed messages about such things. There are some minor details, I explained to the students, about which they have a choice; they can, for example, set out their paragraphs as blocked or indented text. It really doesn’t matter which they use, I told them, as long as they are consistent.
I was reminded, in talking to the students about consistency, that I had contemplated the same issue in relation to Dylan’s care recently. Consistency is important for Dylan who likes things to be done in a particular way and for his preferred routines to be followed. The staff at his residential setting, I suggested in yesterday’s post, seem to be increasingly ‘on the same page’ in relation to such details. It struck me today, however, that Dylan can never have the same consistency that he had at home; with so many more people responsible for supporting him, it would be unrealistic of me to expect this. Is this the nature of the trade-off then? That when an adult child goes into care there are benefits in the support role being shared, but the cost is a reduction in consistency of care? Perhaps so. It’s probably a price worth paying though.
Sadly, this is not always the case. It was recently reported in the media that, in two separate incidents, adults with learning disabilities had died from treatable medical conditions. In both cases, a serious case review found, the deaths could have been prevented with regular monitoring (one man, for example, suffered from chronic constipation). These adults had been moved from residential settings, where they had received such regular monitoring, to supported living in the community. Although they had access to some continuing support, there was no consistency in the care which they received and no single person was responsible for coordinating their care. These circumstances, the lead author of the report found, contributed to their deaths.
It is shameful that adults with learning disabilities should have lost their lives to relatively minor conditions. With the current shift in policy away from residential care and towards community support, these cases warn of the dangers of reducing care for the most vulnerable. Although Dylan is in a different situation there are still lessons that could be learned. One recommendation from the case, for example, is that adults with learning disabilities should have a named care coordinator; I’ve made a note to myself, tonight, to ask Dylan’s care home manager about this.
The serious case reviews are reported here:
Joan Miro, Maternite (1973) Yorkshire Sculpture Park