As a society, we need to learn from the events at Winterbourne View and respond in a way that makes them far less likely to happen in the future, writes Bob Tindall, managing director of United Response.
The Government has just published its final report into the events at Winterbourne View Hospital last year which caused such shock amongst the British public when exposed on Panorama. The report sets out a programme of action to transform services so that vulnerable people no longer live inappropriately in hospitals and are cared for in line with best practice. It is accompanied by a concordat signed by more than 50 partners, setting out what changes they will deliver and by when: we are proud to be one of these partners.
However, as shocking as the abuse at Winterbourne View undoubtedly was, it was not new, as Professor Jim Mansell reminded us in the Panorama programme which revealed it. There have been at least eight publicly investigated abuse scandals concerning people with learning disabilities within the last fifty year period – three of those have occurred between 2006 and 2011. It is highly likely that these were only the ones that were exposed, and that there have been more that have not been reported.
As a society, we need to finally learn from these terrible events and respond in a way that makes them far less likely to happen in the future. As a charity which provides support to individuals like those in the Panorama programme, we need to both speak out and lead by example in showing that people with challenging behaviour and complex needs can live successfully in ordinary, everyday settings.
We have a number of very successful examples within our own organisation of people with “challenging behaviour” and complex needs leading good lives in ordinary settings, having previous been in institutional care, including being in treatment and assessment units. We'll be blogging in more detail on this topic all week at our website, looking at the practical tools that can be used and measures that can be taken to prevent further Winterbournes. Because, if action is not taken, there will be more, of that we can sadly be sure.