Image: Devon Networking EvevntDevon Network Meeting

Monday 17th June 2013
10.30am – 2.00pm
Somerset & Devon Fire & Rescue HQ Clyst St George, Exeter EX3 0NW

SPECIAL MEETING – Neglect and Governance

Costs just £10 for Members, including lunch and refreshments, £25 for Non-members.

On 15 January 2013, the First Tier Tribunal published a decision, the severe terms of which are of major importance to, among others, learning disability service providers.

The parents of a girl with autistic spectrum disorder won their case against the trustees of the registered charity operating Stanbridge Earls, a residential special school. The Tribunal found that the school unlawfully discriminated against their daughter. The school was found not to have made any adaptations or strategies to cope with her disabilities. In particular it had not engaged with her to teach her, in specific ways she could understand, how not to engage in inappropriate sexual behaviour. Consequently the school had not protected the girl from abuse and as a result she had been raped by at least one male pupil.

Association for Real Change has received legal advice that it would be a mistake to view this case as an individual example of poor practice, and has important consequences for adult learning disability providers bearing in mind the broad principles of the decision.

Implications of the case for other providers:

1. Regulators and agencies are likely to adopt a tougher approach.

It is also highly probable that the Charity Commission will review the conduct and practices of the trustees as a result of remarks made in the judgment.

2. Governance

The case raises important questions of governance. Governance is an important issue following Winterbourne View and the Department of Health has already signalled its intention to seek to enforce more personal liability on directors and trustees who do not adequately supervise staff at care establishments operated by them.

3. Are policies and procedures adequate and properly implemented?

The case revealed a school rated as Outstanding by Ofsted which failed to carry out formal risk assessments and whose safeguarding policies made no provision for abuse by other pupils. There is a more general lesson here for providers to check not only the adequacy of their written documentation but also to ensure that they are properly put into practice.

4. The Equality Act means each individual must be treated as an individual

Providers must not fall into the trap of having blanket policies and procedures applicable to all, regardless of their particular, individual disability. All providers should re-examine how they provide adaptations and strategies to enable vulnerable individuals to cope with their very individual disabilities. The importance of thorough individual risk assessments, regularly reviewed, cannot be stressed enough.

This meeting will be addressed by Peter Grose from the specialist law firm Lester Aldridge LLP (www.lester-aldridge.co.uk). Peter will talk us through the implications of the ruling and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Networking

There will also be excellent networking opportunities throughout the day, with an opportunity to share issues, concerns and good practice with colleagues from across the Learning Disability sector.

Booking:

To book your place email bookings@arcuk.org.uk or call 01246 555043

If you would like more information about the day or have any suggestions contact your South West Regional Development Officer, Rod Landman on 01237 441 786 or email rod.landman@arcuk.org.uk