Last year, the Panorama Programme which showed the systematic abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View hospital in Bristol shocked everyone who saw it, with many asking how such a thing could occur in our society. The sad fact is that such abuse has been regularly uncovered in the last decade, and in prior decades.
Tomorrow the ADASS and the NHS will be holding a conference, in Birmingham, organised predominantly for commissioners of services for people with learning disabilities. The conference aims to improve things for the future – not only in social care support but in healthcare too, where people with learning disabilities have also received poor and sometimes very neglectful support.
I’ll be running a workshop which looks at what we can do to ensure that people with learning disabilities receive high quality support based in community settings, near to their families. Even for people with very challenging behaviour, supported living in ordinary housing really works, and it is cheaper too.
The key is understanding the person well and having skilled staff to provide the support. People don’t need to go into hospitals and special units to get such support, and indeed going out of their local area to such places can actually make people’s behaviour worse, not better. Not many of us, if we were in a distressed state, would react well to having the remaining vestiges of what is familiar to us removed, and so it is with people who have challenging behaviour.
We have a lot of experience in supporting people who have challenging behaviour in ordinary settings. The repeated problems of institutional care need addressing fully and a new way of approaching people with complex needs and challenging behaviour needs to be established – as an outcome of the enquiry into Winterbourne View which is currently taking place. This conference is a welcome step along the path of achieving that goal
Bob Tindall, managing director.