Alison Giraud-Saunders speaks out on Panorama's "Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed"
Release Date: 01 June 2011
Source: Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
Country: United Kingdom
The BBC’s Panorama programme broadcast last night, Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed, uncovered the abuse and torment that a group of vulnerable people with learning disabilities and autism experienced within a private long-term hospital. Alison Giraud-Saunders, Co-Director of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, comments:
"Whilst the heart-breaking scenes in the programme expose clear failings in management and external monitoring, it is the model of institutional care that is fundamentally flawed and that must change. It is this model that failed to support and protect the people in its care, with a serious lack of skilled staff unable to engage people in a purposeful way, with clinicians failing to use professional judgement and with higher management being absent.
Enclosed institutions, such as the privately-run learning disability hospital featured in the programme, will always put people with learning disabilities at risk of abuse and neglect, regardless of how diligent the particular organisation running them may or may not be. Banning parents and other family members from visiting living areas is part of a seriously unethical and alarming framework for care.
Perhaps the most perverse aspect of this situation is that public money is still being used to support the running of these institutions in the private sector, a decade after the Department of Health’s Valuing People strategy directed the closure of their NHS equivalents on the grounds that they fostered environments where abuse was a high risk.
Inspection and monitoring by the CQC and care managers needs re-designing, as the current processes allows too much scope for abuse to go undetected, and for people in care to lack the protection they need. A local citizen-led service to support change and to challenge these services where necessary may bring local people closer to those who need support. However, the institutional model will always carry risks and personalised support should be arranged instead.
The additional problem now is that, due to cuts in NHS and local authority budgets, we are losing many of the skilled NHS and local authority commissioners who might be able to direct people with learning disabilities to more appropriate, lower risk services.”