The Delusion of Inclusion continues into 2018

So, once again carers enter yet another year questioning whether their needs will be recognised and their disadvantaged family members will eventually receive the appropriate level and quality of service which they deserve. A short reflection on just a few notable events of 2017 does not inspire great confidence.

Reverberations of the Winterbourne View scandal struck home when a Channel 4 Despatches documentary of the 1st March 2017: ‘Under Lock and Key’, addressed problems arising at St. Andrews,  a hospital which has more than 50 wards and 659 beds.

Two other shocking reports in June drew attention other disturbing aspects of service provision and the vital need for caring and valued staff.

Also reminiscent of Winterbourne View, Bristol Crown Court on June 6t,h saw the sentencing of people with responsibility for the care of people with learning disabilities imprisoned for “organised and systematic abuse” of disabled residents. The owners and staff of the Atlas Project Team were accused of running a culture where “systematic neglect” was the norm. They were paid up to £4000 per person per week to provide care for these vulnerable people.

The end of June saw the publication of ‘A Trade in People’. This an interesting and detailed review of the distribution and availability of specialist residential resources for people with challenging learning disabilities published by The Centre for Disability Research, Lancaster University. It considers the financial implications and the stress that economising imposes on families attempting to maintain close relationships.

Not least, the taking over of 200 NHS and local government commitments, including statutory obligations such as Adult Social Care, by Virgin Care from Somerset authorities spelt the end of any equitable national policy in the foreseeable future.

Perhaps, most sadly, was the news that Scope, one of the few big charitable organisations upon whom carers could look for support for a return to rational policies, have abandoned the policy of providing a continuum of reliable residential and day care services. Far from embarking on an innovative pioneering exercise, ample evidence suggests Scope has been misled into following in the footsteps of the numerous failed dogmas that have decimated support services over the past 30 years. An appalling catalogue of setbacks and suffering can be linked to the charlatans who influenced  policy direction despite lacking adequate  validated research.

Although I have had direct contact with the government official lead for the disabled over the past few months absolutely nothing has been learnt as the government continues to take advice from the wrong people. My thoughts and thanks go out to those determined carers who support any efforts to do something about it.

Author: charlesahenley

Following a varied career starting with 4 years as a city office worker, 4 years service in the RAF both as ground staff ad flying duties, 16 years working for IBM Time systems division as a service engineer, a short spell as a production line supervisor, before returning as service manager to another US business machines corporation who had taken over IBM Time systems division in the UK. The nature of this work brought into contact with day centre establishments for people with learning disabilities and in 1966 when radical and progressive policies were awakening I changed career direction. In the years that followed I worked for five different authorities at centres ranging in size from 24 to 190 attendees of all levels of ability and saw remarkably progressive policies being introduced in the first 20 years for the benefit of the attendees and their carers. Sadly, as a consequence of local authorities gaining full control of policy implementation from 1990 onwards, service support went into a spiral of decline that has made debacle of the rational principles of care in the community. There is now a vital need to take responsibility for service implementation away from local authorities and the NHS and grant it to a single service agency under the direction of its own Minister. Without an urgent change of direction, the current dire situation can only worsen.

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