The law will not tolerate such despicable behaviour

Last week we found out the sentences given to the eleven care staff who abused the people living in Winterbourne View, the private hospital in Bristol that was shown in the BBC One Panorama programme last year.

They admitted 38 charges of neglect and abuse, many of which were shown during the programme, in which we witnessed incidents in which people were bullied by staff and had to ensure restraint techniques that were deliberately used to inflict pain and humiliate. With six of the eleven accused being given custodial sentences, there is a clear message to others that the law will not tolerate such despicable behaviour.

This week on Panorama we heard about further episodes of inhumane treatment experienced by two people who featured in last year’s programme. One of them was now living a four hour journey from her home, and had lived in several units since leaving Winterbourne View. The Department of Health is working on a comprehensive plan to stop further abuse happening, but here are some of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities thoughts on improving service delivery for people with learning disabilities who present with challenging behaviour:

People and their families need more intensive support from those with specialist knowledge to understand why they are displaying such behaviours. This means that they remain living in their local community where they can maintain contact with their family and friends. It is those family and friends who are the best people to help in assessing those behaviours and then supporting the specialist in providing a consistent approach with the intervention plan.

There needs to be stronger requirements for services to develop local, person-centred care. This approach really helps us to understand what is important to people. We know that challenging behaviour is a means of communication, therefore using person centred approaches gives the person a chance to be listened to and to ensure they are involved in decision making.

We need to ensure that for the minority of people who may require specialist care are provided the best possible practice that includes person centred care, families included in decision making, the support is close to home , as well as having an independent advocate.

Let’s put a stop to this terrible abuse. We are asking you to sign up to the Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation an e action to the minister Norman Lamb to tell him that this is unacceptable. Go to www.mencap.org.uk/outofsight and follow the instructions. It only takes a minute.