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Abuse and neglect in institutional care
Tuesday 07 August 2012
‘Out of sight’ report highlights cases of abuse and neglect
A report published today (7 August) reveals the scale of the abuse and neglect of people with a learning disability at assessment and treatment centres like Winterbourne View.
In May 2011, the BBC’s Panorama programme broadcast undercover filming of staff at the privately-run Winterbourne View assessment and treatment centre, as they physically abused the people they were employed to care for.
‘Out of sight’ has been published by Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation. Since the Winterbourne View scandal, the two charities have received 260 reports from families who are concerned that loved ones with a learning disability are being neglected or abused in institutional-style care.
The joint report highlights a number of serious incidents reported by families, including physical assault, sexual abuse, withdrawal of food and water and the overuse of restraint by physical and medical means.
There are currently many hundreds of people with a learning disability living in institutions similar to Winterbourne View. In many cases, the units people live in are hundreds of miles from home, leaving them at particular risk of abuse and neglect. Although intended to provide short-tem specialist treatment, more than half of residents remain in assessment and treatment units for two years or more, and nearly a third stay for more than five years.
Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive, said: “We fear that unless the government commits to a strong action plan to close large institutions and develop appropriate local services for people with a learning disability, there is a very real risk that another Winterbourne View will come to light.”
Together, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation are calling on the government to urgently address the systemic failings in the care of people with a learning disability, by closing large institutions and developing appropriate local services.
The Care Quality Commission’s recent inspection programme of 145 hospitals and care homes for people with a learning disability revealed that half of services failed to meet essential care and safeguarding standards.
'Out of Sight' has been published on the day that South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board published its serious case review into the abuse at Winterbourne View. The review, written by adult protection expert Margaret Flynn, finds that the abuse at Winterbourne View resulted from serious and sustained failings in the management procedures of service provider Castlebeck Care Ltd.
It recommends greater investment in community-based care in order to prevent people from ending up in Winterbourne-style services, as well as calling for the end of ‘t-supine restraint’ in such units, where patients are laid on the ground and staff use their body weight to restrain them.
Yesterday (6 August), the last of 11 Winterbourne View workers to be accused of abuse pleaded guilty. Michael Ezenagu, 29, admitted two charges of ill-treating a patient.
All 11 defendants will be sentenced together in a few weeks’ time.
Read the ‘Out of sight’ report
Read the findings of today's serious case review
Read the findings of the NHS review into commissioning of care and treatment at Winterbourne View
Take Mencap’s action to send the report to your MP and to ask them to attend a parliamentary debate on Winterbourne View