The invisible Sword of Damocles

The feeling of ever present peril is one familiar to directors of social services. A former boss once confided in me that when ever he read about an abuse scandal he thought about a youth unit that he was responsible for in his early senior management career. Nothing I could ever put me finger on, he said, just a generally feeling of unease about the way the place was run. Such that even now I think the place could come back to haunt me. I had my own example a residential home for older men which in reality was run like a hostel. They took men over 65 who the other residential  homes for older people wound’t take, they were social misfits, often with a history of alcoholism and rough sleeping. The place came under my responsibility only for a few months in an acting up role. Not long enough for me to get to grips with the culture and management style but long enough for me to notice that the manager was uncomfortable with my unannounced visits especially if he wasn’t there! So  I was shocked but not surprised years later to read that a police investigation was being conducted into a suspicious death. Apparently this was not the first resident to have fallen down the stairs. 


This came back to me when I recently read in the papers about the abuse of children in foster care and residential homes run by a local Authority. The report refers to decades of abuse and a failure to learn lessons. There must be a number of social service senior managers and councillors who have that vision of the sword hanging over their head.


Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger 




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