A story all too familiar

It’s been uncovered again. The BBC Panorama programme uncovered vile, abusive, torturous, and abhorrent behaviour of staff at Whorlton Hall last week. It has been 8 years since the abuse at Winterbourne View shocked the nation and following that there were (unfilled) promises to review and close these long stay hospitals and transform care –we all know, it’s just not happened.

I can see that a number of the staff from there have been arrested and criminal proceedings are pending – good, I hope they throw the book at them. How someone can treat anyone like that is beyond comprehension to me, it goes against everything our sector stands for, more than that – it goes against the decency of the human race. It’s clear the ‘support’ staff there had no understanding or regard for the complex support needs of each person that they should have been proud to support and be a positive part of their journey. Wrong values, wrong approach, wrong job.

We have such a complicated systematic approach to health and social care – the way it’s funded, the way it’s commissioned, the way it is regulated and so many blockages in the system to be able to offer proper person centred support. And all of that needs urgent attention. But for me, we are peeling an onion – there are many layers to getting this right for the people who need our support services the most.

We need good staff working in the sector; this is a people-centric business – compassion, empathy, respect are fundamental… so now we are back to the issue of recruitment of the right people and the profile of social care. We need those grounded, appropriate values in people first of all and to then offer them high level training so they are equipped to work competently and confidently – so where’s the money to support this?

And then, let’s think about the environment for people to move towards, in the community. No point seeking to close hospitals to essentially move people in to another setting that is in effect a different version of the same thing. Are we prepared? I am all for the move to close the hospitals, don’t get me wrong, but substituting one wrong setting for another is not the answer either.

And the role of family, advocates and self-advocates is paramount – systems are needed yes, but people first – this time and every time.

We will continue to work with sector partners and stakeholders to help move this forward and influence wherever we can.

Enough is enough.

Best wishes

Lisa Lenton
England Director
24 May 2019