Monday, 30 July 2018

2018 National Student Survey Results Are In!

The Office for Students has announced the findings of the 2018 National Student Survey.

The survey captures the views of over 320,000 students and shows that while student satisfaction levels are high, universities and colleges must do more to ensure a positive experience for all students.

Overall satisfaction is 83 per cent in comparison with 84 per cent last year. Eight per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their higher education experience and the remaining eight per cent were dissatisfied. 

Overall, students were most satisfied with the quality of teaching on their courses.  Areas for improvement were flagged around organisation and communication with only 69% feeling their course was well organised and smooth running, and 62% clear on how student feedback on their course was acted upon.

Whilst you can already access the raw data from the survey on the Office for Student's website, the summary and comparable data will not be made available until the end of August 2018, when it will be published on the Unistats website.

Unistats is the official site to search for and compare data and information on undergraduate level courses from across the UK. The site draws together comparable information on those areas that students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the Office for Students, said: ‘While we have seen overall satisfaction fall by one percent, many questions have maintained their satisfaction levels including the student voice, academic support, learning resources and assessment and feedback questions.

‘We run the NSS to help ensure that students’ voices are heard and understood – so that universities and colleges can work to give all students a positive experience of higher education. The NSS is a highly credible and long-established survey which continually achieves a very high response rate. The results are an invaluable tool for universities and colleges to improve students’ experience of higher education.

‘While I am pleased to see the overall satisfaction rate remains high, the data shows that there is more work to be done to ensure all students have a high quality and fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

‘We will ensure the survey remains a valid and useful resource and review the changes providers are making in response to the survey’s findings.’

Friday, 27 July 2018

More NHS Dentists to be Funded to Carryout Prevention-Focused Care

More NHS dental practices will be joining a scheme for prevention-focused dental care following successful results where it has been tested.

Up to 50 practices in England will be selected to join the 73 currently testing a new approach to dental care.

The new system incentivises dentists to offer full oral health assessments and self-care plans on top of traditional treatments.

In the first year of piloting the new approach, dentists reported that:
  • 90% of patients had reduced or maintained levels of tooth decay
  • 80% of patients had reduced or maintained levels of gum disease
  • 97% of patients said they were satisfied with the dental care they received
The recently published evaluation report from the first year of testing recommended that a further group of dental practices should be recruited into the programme.

The new practices are currently being selected and will join from October 2018 and January 2019.

The existing 73 practices are continuing to test the new approach, with a new remuneration system added which supports dentists carrying out preventative work.

The scheme could be rolled out nationally from April 2020 if it can be shown to benefit patients, the NHS and dental practice following a thorough evaluation.

Health Minister Steve Brine said:  "The government has made great progress in improving the oral health of patients and tooth decay among children continues to decrease ‒ but there is more we can do.

Our new proposed NHS dental contract focuses on prevention and quality of care and will be thoroughly tested to ensure it is financially sustainable for the NHS, patients and dentists."

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Sixteen Top Dissertation Writing Tips

If you are struggling to get your dissertation finished follow our top tips to success!
  1. Before you start work review previous student’s dissertations to get a feel for what the committee reviewing your work expects. Ask them often what kinds of expectations they have, how they like work to be laid out etc.. When the structure is familiar to the reader, the message you’re communicating will come through clearer.
  2. Make use of the support offered to you. Getting advice at the ideas, rough draft and editing stages of the process will ensure you can correct your direction as you go, no one wants to face a major rewrite just before the last hurdle.
  3. Write an outline, this won’t work for everyone, but give it a try. It can be the first set to getting your ideas in order, discarding those interesting but not useful ideas and helping you see the wood for the trees.
  4. Your first draft should be ‘brain dump’ get all your ideas down. This might look like a bubble drawing of interconnecting ideas, or be a structured outline of headings and subheadings with key facts under each, or it might be a collection of paragraphs to get you started. Don’t edit it, just write it, this is about getting the ideas out, starting to give your dissertation its shape and noting the gaps in your research.
  5. Set deadlines. Goals are important for sustaining motivation, but be flexible, your end date is set in stone, but the amount of time you spend doing each task along the way can be adjusted as necessary.
  6. Remember the optimal time for continuous writing is 45 minutes – buy in lots of biscuits and take breaks!
  7. Work in as uncluttered an environment as possible, a clutter space equals a cluttered mind.
  8. End each day by running through what you want to do the next day, it will make you more productive and focused when you get up.
  9. Do not judge your progress by that of your friends, quantity is not the same thing as quality, and they may be embellishing their answer to appear on top of it all or anticipating what they think you have done.
  10. When you hit a block don’t panic and ditch your whole thesis, trust it will pass and you will get your mojo back. 
  11. Accept that you will be consumed by your dissertation. But try to build breaks in, guilt-free days when you will put down the pen, even if you feel you shouldn’t. These breaks will do you the world of good. You will return refreshed, energised and with everything back in perspective.
  12. When the ironing looks appealing ask yourself if you are just looking for reasons not to get back to it. 
  13. Buy reams and reams of paper, you will need it – printing all that research takes up a surprising amount of paper.
  14. Stock up on dried and canned foods – this is not the time to take up Thai cooking or to apply for Bake Off.
  15. Appreciate each baby step you make. Breaking your task down into smaller goals will help you maintain your motivation – this is a marathon not a sprint, celebrate each mile you pass.
  16. Remember you are not alone, if it suits your personality, form a support group, meeting regularly for a coffee and chat will help you feel normal and less isolated. They will be going through the same trials and tribulations as you!
Remember - you can do it!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Strong Focus on Continuous Learning Leads to Improved CQC Rating

A south-east London GP practice has been rated Good overall by the Care Quality Commission. Previously having been rated Inadequate and placed in special measures.

The introduction of a strong culture of continuous learning and development unpinned the work done by the practice to address all the issues that led to breaches of regulations at their last inspection.

Key Improvements

  • The practice had moved its main practice location, and closed two of its three branch locations.
  • Care and treatment is being delivered according to evidence based guidelines.
  • Staff involved patients in their treatment and treated patients with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect. 
  • The appointment system is now easy to use and patients reported that there had been improvements in them being able to access care when they needed it. 
  • The practice had greatly improved its identification and offer of support to people with caring responsibilities.
  • The practice provided regular health promotion poster campaigns and talks to people in the local community, which has raised awareness and increased diagnosis of the diseases focused on during their campaigns.
The CQC has made further recommendations for improvements they would like to see at the practice but with a healthy and supportive culture now in place sufficient work has been done for the CQC to take the practice out of special measures.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Society of Authors Awards Night Celebrates the Best in Literature and Poetry

Iconic reggae musician and poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Whitbread winner Tash Aw, Man Booker nominated Fiona Mozley, Women’s Prize shortlistee, Jessie Greengrass and debut novelist Omar Robert Hamilton amongst winners as 31 of the ‘boldest’ writers from across the world share the UK’S biggest literary fund.

Writers and poets from across the globe were celebrating as the 2018 Authors’ Awards were announced by the Society of Authors last night.

Eight awards were presented to 31 writers with a host of debut names joining recognised writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry to share a prize fund of £98,000.

David Donachie, Chair of the Society of Authors Management Committee says of the Awards “These awards are unique for being uncommercial, funded to the tune of nearly £100,000 by bequests from writers working in every form, judged by their present-day heirs and awarded to the best in each category. They celebrate, as well as promote, writers and writing and nothing else.”

The Winners

The Betty Trask Prize & Awards

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35.

The Betty Trask Prize Winner – Awarded £10,000
  • Omar Robert Hamilton for The City Always Wins (Faber & Faber)

The Betty Trask Award Winners – Awarded £3,250 each
  • Sarah Day for Mussolini's Island (Tinder Press)
  • Clare Fisher for All the Good Things (Viking)
  • Eli Goldstone for Strange Heart Beating (Granta)
  • Lloyd Markham for Bad Ideas\Chemicals (Parthian)
  • Masande Ntshanga for The Reactive (Jacaranda)

The McKitterick Prize

The McKitterick Prize is awarded for a first novel by a writer over 40.

The McKitterick Prize Winner – Awarded £4,000
  • Anietie Isong (photographer: Tom Pilston)
  • Anietie Isong for Radio Sunrise (Jacaranda) 

The McKitterick Prize Runner-Up – Awarded £1,250
  • Frances Maynard for The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr (Pan Macmillan)

The Tom-Gallon Trust Award

The Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication.

Tom-Gallon Trust Award Winner - Awarded £1,000
  • Chris Connolly for The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us

Tom-Gallon Trust Award Runner-Up - Awarded £575
  • Benjamin Myers for A Thousand Acres of English Soil

The Somerset Maugham Awards

The Somerset Maugham Awards (three writers each awarded £5250) are for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries.
  • Kayo Chingonyi for Kumakanda (Chatto & Windus) - poetry
  • Fiona Mozley for Elmet (JM Originals) - novel
  • Miriam Nash for All the Prayers in the House (Bloodaxe Books) - poetry

Eric Gregory Awards

Awarded for a collection of poems by a poet under 30 - seven poets each awarded £4050
  • Zohar Atkins for System Baby
  • Victoria Adukwei Bulley for Girl Being
  • Jenna Clake for Fortune Cookie (Eyewear Publishing)
  • Joseph Eastell for Blossom Boy Beta Test 
  • Annie Katchinska for Sesame Powders
  • Ali Lewis for Hotel
  • Stephen Sexton for The animals, moon

The Cholmondeley Awards

Presented for a body of work by a poet - Five poets awarded £1680
  • Vahni Capildeo
  • Kate Clanchy
  • Linton Kwesi Johnson
  • Daljit Nagra
  • ZoĆ« Skoulding 

The Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography

Awarded £5,000
  • Giles Tremlett for Isabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen (Bloomsbury)

The Travelling Scholarships

Awarded to British creative writers to enable them to keep in contact with writing colleagues abroad - Five writers each awarded £1575
  • Jenn Ashworth
  • Tash Aw
  • Jessie Greengrass
  • James Harpur
  • Sudhir Hazareesingh

Thursday, 19 July 2018

A Clear Vision and Approachable and Involved Management Style Leads to Outstanding CQC Rating

Elizabeth House – Gloucester in Denmark Road, Gloucestershire has been rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission following an inspection in April.

Inspectors rated the service Outstanding for being safe, effective, caring and well-led and Good for being responsive to people’s needs. The overall rating was Outstanding.

Elizabeth House – Gloucester is part of the National Star Foundation Charity and provides accommodation for people (including young people under 18 years) living with a physical disability and/or learning disability or autistic spectrum disorder. There were 25 people living at the service at the time of the inspection.

Key findings:

  • Throughout the inspection it was evident that people were cared for with compassion and kindness.  Staff at every level wanted people to be happy and live a life that was meaningful and fulfilling.  Inspectors observed positive interactions between people and staff and a genuine sense of fondness and respect between all involved.
  • Staff had a can do approach and worked creatively to overcome obstacles and hazards to enable people to pursue their dreams and aspirations. In one example they overcame communication and mobility issues to ensure that one resident was able to pursue his dream of skiing who described the experience as “fantastic and rewarding”
  • The care provided exceeded the expectations of people and their relatives. One person described how a member of staff spent the night with them when they were suffering from seizures saying “It shows they really care about us. It's more than a job to them."
  • The leadership of the service was exceptional. It was evident the registered manager offered strong and experienced leadership and had a clear vision about the direction of the service. This vision was embedded and passed on to the staff who were highly committed to improving people's lives and ensuring they received the highest standards of care. 
  • The management team were very much part of the overall care team at Elizabeth House. They were fully involved in people's care and were both visible and approachable. 
  • Staff at the service clearly understood their role and worked hard to promote a homely atmosphere in the service.
Deborah Ivanova, Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said “Elizabeth House – Gloucester is a service where the staff and management have demonstrated their clear vision of promoting a world in which people with disabilities are able to realise their potential as equal and active citizens who can live independently and be in control of their lives. The culture and ethos of running a positive, person-centred service where staff treat people with compassion and regard them as family was evident throughout our inspection.

“This service was rated Good overall after our previous inspection in May 2015 and I am delighted that the provision of high quality care has continued to improve to a standard that merits our highest overall rating. I congratulate the staff and management on this achievement”.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

New Campaign by the FSB Calls For Greater Support for the Self-employed and Sole Traders

Confidence among the self-employed community has fallen significantly over the last year, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The FSB Small Business Index (SBI) for the self-employed stands at +2.8 in Q2 2018, down substantially from the two-year high of +9.7 seen in Q1 2017. By contrast, confidence among firms with up to 10 or 11 to 20 employees stands at +19.3 and +39.5 respectively this quarter.

More than one in four (28%) sole traders currently expect business performance will worsen over the coming three months. Four in ten (41%) are not expecting a meaningful improvement. Less than one in three (31%) think their business performance will improve.

In response the FSB has launched its new “Think Self-Employed” campaign.  Amongst the recommendations in the accompanying report the FSB is asking for: 
  • Two weeks of statutory paternity pay and an Adoption Allowance for the self-employed 
  • Amends to the Parental Bereavement Bill to ensure sole traders are included in the potential legislation 
  • Reform of Universal Credit (UC) to protect sole traders from losing out due to fluctuating incomes
  • Extension of the UC ‘start-up period’ to ensure claimants have at least two years to get firms off the ground 
  • A Brexit deal that works for sole traders: one which allows them to cross European borders without administrative burdens and additional costs 
  • Using the self-assessment process to nudge the self-employed towards saving more for the future; only 17% of self-employed people have a private pension, compared to 78% of employees
  • Ensuring that lessons are learned from the impact of changes to IR35 legislation in the public sector before rolling them out to the private sector 
  • Closer working between government and financial services firms to help the self-employed overcome barriers faced when applying for mortgages, loans and insurance products 
  • Introducing tax relief on training courses for the self-employed that provide them with new skills to ensure they can compete in a rapidly changing economy 
  • Providing Local Enterprise Partnerships with comprehensive information on the number of self-employed people in their area so they can target small business support effectively
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “The UK’s self-employed community contributes more than £270 billion to the economy annually yet they’re still treated as an afterthought by policy makers. We’ll be campaigning over the coming months to change that status quo.

“It can’t be right that a self-employed father isn’t entitled to any kind of statutory pay when he spends time with a new child. Equally, with thousands of children and young people currently in foster care, we need to create an environment where self-employed individuals who want to adopt are able to do so.

“It’s encouraging to see the Bereavement Bill making its way through Parliament. The glaring omission from the potential legislation is that it excludes the self-employed. The right to paid time away from work for self-employed people suffering from the tragic loss of a child should be enshrined in law, just as it should be for employees.

“As it stands, the UC system punishes sole traders simply because their incomes fluctuate throughout the year. It’s simply wrong that a self-employed person earning £12,000 a year receives fifty per cent less UC entitlement than an employee earning the same amount. To address that issue, quarterly, rather than monthly, reporting needs to be the norm.

“All the evidence indicates that it takes at least 24 months to get a viable firm off the ground, yet under UC you have just a year to get going as a sole trader before your entitlement is slashed. MPs across the board agree that the Minimum income floor is a risk to economic dynamism in the UK. The start-up period should be extended immediately.

“The self-employed need to be front of mind for Brexit negotiators. We must avoid a future scenario where our contractors have to fill out burdensome paperwork when completing jobs in Europe. The delays caused could well mean losing out to competitors already based in the EU. Any Free Trade Agreements struck after 2020 need to include dedicated small business chapters to ensure firms of all sizes, including sole traders, benefit from new arrangements.” 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

CQC Calls for the NHS and Social Care Systems to Have Shared Performance Measures

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), has published a report bringing together key findings and recommendations for change, following the completion of 20 local authority area reviews exploring how older people move between health and adult social care services in England.

Many older people have complex needs, and meeting these needs usually requires more than one professional and more than one agency to work together. The CQC’s local system reviews provide a detailed insight into the journey through health and social care for people who use services, their families and carers - and identify where there are gaps which mean that people experience fragmented or poor care.

'Beyond Barriers' highlights some examples of health and care organisations working well together - and of individuals working across organisations to provide high quality care. But the reviews also found too much ineffective co-ordination of health and care services, leading to fragmented care. This was reinforced by funding, commissioning, performance management and regulation that encouraged organisations to focus on individual performance rather than on positive outcomes for people.

The lack of a shared plan or vision resulted in people not receiving the right care in the right place at the right time – with consequences ranging from care being provided at greater expense than necessary, to increased pressure on services, to people’s quality of life being significantly diminished.

The report sets out a number of recommendations designed to encourage improvement in the way agencies and professionals work to support older people to stay well.  Including the development of an agreed joint plan created by local leaders for how the needs of older people are to be supported in their own homes, helped in an emergency and then enabled to return home; supported by long-term funding reform - involving national care leaders as equal partners - in order to remove the barriers that prevent social care and NHS commissioners from pooling their resources and using their budgets flexibly to best meet the needs of their local populations; underpinned by:
  • a move from short-term to long-term investment in services, and from an activity-based funding model towards population-based budgets which encourage collaboration between local systems.
  • A single joint framework for measuring the performance of how agencies collectively deliver improved outcomes for older people. This would operate alongside oversight of individual provider organisations and reflect the contributions of all health and care organisations – including primary, community, social care and independent care providers – rather than relying primarily on information collected by acute hospitals.
  • The development of joint workforce plans, with more flexible and collaborative approaches to staff skills and career paths. National health and social care leaders should make it easier for individuals to move between health and care settings – providing career paths that enable people to work and gain skills in a variety of different settings so that services can remain responsive to local population needs
  • New legislation to allow the CQC to regulate systems and hold them to account for how people and organisations work together to support people to stay well and to improve the quality of care people experience across all the services they use.
Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of the CQC, said "Our findings show the urgent necessity for real change. A system designed in 1948 can no longer effectively meet the complex needs of increasing numbers of older people in 2018. People’s conditions have evolved - and that means the way the system works together has got to change too.

“We have seen the positive outcomes that can be achieved when those working in local health and care organisations have a clear, agreed and shared vision together with strong leadership and collaborative relationships, and we met some outstanding professionals, working across organisational boundaries to provide high-quality care. However, their efforts were often despite the conditions in place to facilitate joint working, rather than because of them. We need incentives that drive local leaders to work together, rather than push them apart.

“These twenty local system reviews highlight both the barriers that prevent collaboration – and the real impact that this lack of collaboration has on older people. Today we are calling for those barriers to be broken down. We are making specific recommendations to local and national leaders and government on new approaches to funding, commissioning, performance measurement and regulation, designed to encourage local systems to work together more effectively to deliver personalised care to the people who rely on their services, and to safeguard quality of care into the future.”