Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Potential abolition of the Irish Censorship Board

Ireland has had one of the strictest censorship regimes of the 20th century; banning many well known books in the past including East of Eden by John Steinbeck and The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene. However, this may all be about to change as it seems that Ireland’s main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, has tabled a bid to abolish the Irish Republic's Censorship of Publications Board.

This would be quite a change in Irish censorship regulation as this board has been in existence since 1929. The board was borne out of the Censorship of Publications Act and has been prolific in its approach! Thousands of authors have fallen foul of this board including, but not limited to, James Joyce, Brendan Behan, F Scott Fitzgerald, Edna O’ Brien and DH Lawrence.

The board is authorised to ban any works that it feels are obscene. Initially, a number of books relating to sex and marriage were banned and some works by the women’s rights campaigner, Marie Stopes. Any member of the public can refer to the board; however, it is felt that the board has outlived its function with no new members being appointed since 2011 and only eight books referred since 2008.

One of these books is the current justice minister (Fine Gael), Alan Shatter’s novel, Laura, which "contains steamy sex scenes and centres around the troubled private life of an Oireachtas member who is having an affair with his secretary". However, no decision can be made regarding this novel as the board currently does not have any members!

Currently, no books are banned in Ireland because of indecency, but eight books about abortion continue to be censored, testament to the fact that the board has always been known for its adherence to strict Roman Catholic values.

It will be interesting to see whether this board, described by Robert Graves as imposing “the fiercest literary censorship this side of the Iron Curtain” (www.irishindependent.ie 2013)continues to exist or shuffles off into the twilight - a nation awaits!

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

CQC announce further hospital CQC visits

On the 24th October 13 the CQC announced that a further 19 NHS trusts will be inspected next year, starting from January 2014. These additional inspections will pull on larger, expert teams that include professional and clinical staff and members of the public who use care.
These NHS trusts are the first to be given one of the following ratings.
  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requiring improvement
  • Inadequate

How have these NHS trusts been chosen?

The CQC have selected the next 19 NHS trusts to inspect based on whether they:
  • score highly in their intelligent monitoring tool.
  • are a foundation trust applicant that Monitor have asked the CQC to look at.
  • were inspected by Sir Bruce Keogh.
In addition the CQC have selected eight mental health trusts and community health services to help them test and develop models for the way they inspect and regulate those services.

Which trusts will be inspected?

  • Aintree University Hospital NHS FT (North)
  • Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS FT (South)
  • Homerton University Hospital NHS FT (London)
  • Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust (North)
  • Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust (Central)
  • Royal Berkshire NHS FT (South)
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (Central)
  • Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (Band 2) (North)
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (Band 3) (South)
  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (Band 3) (South)
  • St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust (Band 6) (London)
  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS FT (Band 1) (Central)
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS FT (Band 2) (North)
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (Band 1) (South)
  • Dudley Group NHS FT (Band 4) (Central)
  • East Kent Hospitals University NHS FT (Band 3) (South)
  • Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust (Band 2) (London)
  • Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS FT (Band 6) (Central)
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS FT (Band 5) (North)

Mental health trusts/community health services

  • Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust – FT applicant (Community - North)
  • Central Essex Community Services (Provider) – Social Enterprise (Community – Central)
  • Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust – FT applicant (Mental Health - Central)
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust – FT applicant (Community - Central)
  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust – FT applicant (Mental Health - South)
  • Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, MH – FT applicant (Mental Health - Central)
  • Solent NHS Trust – FT applicant (Combined - South)
  • SW London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust – FT applicant (Mental Health – London)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Catton wins Man Booker Prize 2013

Finally, after all the speculation, the winner is announced. Elanor Catton, at 28, is the youngest Man Booker winner in the history of the prize. The Luminaries also has the honour of being the longest ever winning novel at 832 pages. Catton is only the second New Zealander to win the prize.
The novel itself is set in 1866 during the New Zealand gold rush. The story revolves around a group of 12 men gathered for a meeting in a hotel and a traveller who stumbles upon them. The story goes on to involve a missing rich man, a dead hermit, a huge sum in gold, and a beaten-up whore. In effect this is a mystery involving sex, opium and lawsuits. The story is told through multiple voices and, eventually, what happened in the small town of Hokitika on New Zealand's South Island is revealed.
The book was described by Robert Macfarlane as a “dazzling work, luminous, vast”. It is, he said, “a book you sometimes feel lost in, fearing it to be 'a big baggy monster', but it turns out to be as tightly structured as an orrery”. He goes on to say that The Luminaries is a novel with heart, “The characters are in New Zealand to make and to gain – the one thing that disrupts them is love.”
Catton’s life will now change forever. She will be recognised as one of the great modern day writers and, for one so young, she should have a long, and hopefully productive, writing career ahead of her. It will be interesting to see how and with what she follows up this success!
If you think you have a story to tell, but need some help getting it on paper, visit our Ghost Writing Service.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Settling into a job abroad

Last year I worked abroad teaching English and found it to be a great experience. After completing my teaching qualification I moved to Spain. I am currently looking to go further away this year and I am planning to move to Vietnam.

In my first year I learnt a great deal. The job gave me support to help me settle in a new country, helped me to meet people and learn some of the language. The students have not always been the easiest to teach but, as well as teaching them, I learnt from the adult students (cultural traditions, how to celebrate public holidays and where the best bar/ restaurant in town was.) I enjoyed working with the young children as well teaching them English in a fun way.

The first two months were very difficult as I think a lot of people who have lived abroad will agree. There are all the practical things to worry about: finding somewhere to live, starting a new job, setting up a bank account, getting a mobile phone and the internet. On top of this you need to meet new people, learn the language, find different food you like and adapt to a new way of life. My advice is to be patient; it won’t all happen immediately. I had times when I wanted to go home and know others who left after a few weeks. But you will get past this as you settle into the new job and lifestyle. 

My next challenge is picking a job in Vietnam. I get offered a job which seems great and then I google the company and find horror stories from people who worked for them. And like hotel reviews you can never tell if someone is being overly critical or speaking the truth. I see many agencies being advertised and then reviews saying never to go through an agency as they don’t care about the students or the staff. All the advice says just go and find a job out there. A daunting prospect.

If you decide to work abroad my advice is to be patient, you won't settle in immediately, enjoy the job you do, and remember to get involved and explore. 

From online submissions to online courses: The use of the internet in University life

The internet is now essential for everyday life at university. As well as socialising and researching, online submissions have been standard at most universities for some time. I never experienced this being at Sussex University where both copies still had to be submitted by hand until 2012. I can imagine it does limit late submissions, half the amount of paper needed and help to avoid plagiarism. However Sussex University lost its beloved dissertation dash last year. A fun day for finalists to let their hair down and the countdown to the four o’clock deadline with the last few students running to hand their work in on time.

The internet is becoming even more important with online courses. The Open University has launched Futurelearn.  Still in its preliminary stages it is offering online courses from a number of top universities for free. You can access a variety of courses from the comfort of your own home or on the way to work. This provides opportunities to learn skills, help you decide if a university course is right for you before paying those massive fees and can be accessed by domestic students and international students. Even though you wouldn't get the full social experience of university (which not everyone wants) there is a community for people to discuss topics. For some I can imagine it might end up like that morning jog with good intentions at the start of the year but later interest dwindles. For the well-motivated it could be a great opportunity. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

CQC annouces a new approach to their social care establishment inspections

The CQC (Care Quality Commission) have today annouced their intention to change the way that care homes and other social care services are monitored, inspected and regulated.

Below we've summarised the key changes proposed by the CQC:

1. Rating care homes

Every care home and adult social care service in England will be awarded one of the following ratings by March 2016.
  • Outstanding.
  • Good.
  • Requires improvement.
  • Inadequate.
These ratings will be made available to the public so that they can make better informed decisions about the care they or their loved ones receive.

2. Bigger and improved inspection teams

Inspections of adult social care services will look at whether the service is:
  • safe.
  • effective.
  • caring.
  • responsive to people’s needs.
  • well-led.
It is proposed that inspection teams will also include more expert inspectors, specialist advisors and people who have experience of receiving social care services. 

3. Other changes

The CQC have pledged to also:
  • monitor the finances of 50-60 care home providers that would be difficult to replace if they were to go out of business (subject to the Care Bill – a change relating to the care and support for adults – becoming law).
  • take tougher action on services that do not meet standards, particularly those that do not have a registered manager in place.
  • check that services that are applying to be registered have the right values, motives, ability and experience to provide care to people.
  • discuss the risks and potential benefits of mystery shoppers and hidden cameras to monitor care, and whether they could contribute to promoting a culture of safety and quality while respecting people’s privacy and dignity.
  • encourage residential homes to get more involved in their local community.
  • work with local Healthwatch to get its views on care homes in the community.
The CQC have said that they will be releasing a consultation document and asking for public opinion on these changes in Spring 2014.
Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “This is a fresh start for how care homes, home care, and other adult social care services are inspected and regulated across the country. I will be leading CQC’s new approach by making more use of people’s views and by using expert inspection teams involving people who have personal experience of care.

“We will always be on the side of the people who use care services. For every care service we look at, I want us to ask, is this good enough for my Mum? If it is, this should be celebrated. If not, then as the regulator, we will do something about it.”

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

CQC fee consultation for 14/15

The CQC have launched a consultation process to understand individuals' thoughts on the fees that they propose to charge health and social care providers in 2014/15.

This year’s consultation includes proposals to:
  • increase fees for all health and social care providers by 2.5 per cent.
  • change the bandings for residential care home services to reduce certain “cliff edge effects” in the current bands.
  • introduce a measure to differentiate single location dental providers by the size of their practice.
  • make a minor change to a definition in the fees scheme in relation to residential substance misuse and specialist college services.
Its easy to get involved. You can download the consultations document from the CQC website to read about their proposals in more detail and to find full information on the feedback process.

The CQC (Care Quality Commission) monitor the quality of health and care services provided throughout the UK. They focus on registering organisations as 'fit to practice' and on ensuring on-going compliance with recognised quality standards.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Man Booker Prize 2013

This year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist is one of the most diverse in recent memory. Each novel has its own highly distinctive taste and style ranging from 832 pages to 104. The oldest author is 67, the youngest 28 (Elanor Catton, indeed the youngest ever shortlistee!). The original longlist contained 151 novels, so well done to the judges for reading and, in some instances, re-reading these books! It seems that the judges are not swayed by big names with a number of renowned writers not making it onto the list.
The books on this list show that the novel continues to be a multi-faceted thing and that the inspiration to write comes from all places, knowing no boundaries – geographical or otherwise.

The list.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus)
Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador)
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)

The winner is announced on October 15th.

If you are an aspiring writer and would like help with your manuscript, Words Worth Reading Ltd can help. Simply visit our website to find out about our services.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Removal of Duplicate Documents on the IG Toolkit

A significant number of duplicate documents have been identified within the evidence documents held against organisations’ assessments on the IG Toolkit. 

As part of version 11 released in June 2013, a new function has been added which means that a user cannot upload more than one document with the same filename. 
There are concerns in relation to long term server capacity, so a decision has been taken to remove any duplicate evidence documents (i.e. those documents where both the filename and content is exactly the same). 

The removal of these documents should also help with the management of evidence documents for users via the ‘view documents used as evidence’ link as the duplicate documents will no longer be appearing as multiple duplicated entries on that list.
These changes will happen automatically over the weekend of 25th October and you do not need to take any action. This action will not impact on your overall assessment or scores.

If you are a healthcare professional and would like help with your IG Toolkit submission, Words Worth Reading Ltd can help. Click here to find out about our support packages and audit service. 

Image: Jessica Mullen, Flickr