Minister wants end of places like Winterbourne View
Tuesday 13 November 2012
After meeting families affected, care services minister calls for a “complete culture change” to put a stop to the abuse of people with a learning disability
On Monday 12 November, care services minister Norman Lamb met with the families of six people who had experienced abuse and neglect in units like Winterbourne View.
Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation arranged the meeting, ahead of the publication of the government’s report on Winterbourne View, so that the minister could hear, from those most affected, why such places need to close. Two families had loved ones at the Winterbourne View assessment and treatment centre, where abuse was uncovered last May. Others had featured in Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation’s ‘Out of sight’ report.
Norman Lamb heard stories of people moving from inappropriate place to inappropriate place, and accounts of the neglect and abuse people had experienced. The families (pictured) powerfully showed why there must be urgent reform of the way in which their sons and daughters with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges are supported.
Lamb said the government is committed to a robust and decisive report – and ending people being sent to places like Winterbourne View where people are hidden from view, a long way from home. “There needs to be a complete culture change so that individuals with a learning disability are treated with exactly the same rights as any other citizens,” he said.
In their own community
He also said that care and support should be shaped around the needs of individuals in their own community, where possible. Some of the families showed how it can work, explaining how their sons and daughters are now living close to home, with good support. And their families are being actively involved in decisions about their lives.
Steve Sollars, whose son Sam was at Winterbourne View, was positive about the meeting. “It was nice to see a minister taking seriously what has gone on – not just at Winterbourne View but other institutions, like hospitals and care homes,” he said.
“We hope that by hearing the appalling stories families shared with him, the minister will take all the necessary steps to ensure that scandals like Winterbourne View never happen again,” finished Beverley Dawkins, national policy manager for profound and multiple learning disabilities at Mencap.
The government’s final report on Winterbourne View, and an action plan, is due to be published at the end of November.