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Winterbourne View final report: social workers best placed to plan long term care for people with learning disabilities

BASW is pleased to hear a pledge of support from care services minister Norman Lamb MP for the social work view that long term care for adults with disabilities should be based on treating the person, not their disability, and that care should be planned in consultation with the person and their family.

Commenting on today’s publication of the final report on Winterbourne View, Ruth Cartwright, manager BASW England said: “As the minister rightly points out, hospitals should only ever be a short term measure for caring for adults with learning disabilities.
“Regardless of how they are set up and described, hospital facilities for adults in need of on-going care are firmly centred on a medical model and pay scant regard for people's need to be placed close to their families. Today's comments by the minister acknowledging these points is both welcome and long overdue.
“However, we have a real fear that any meaningful reform of social care, including this issue, is little more than empty rhetoric given the huge challenges facing local authority and health care budgets.
“Understanding the social model of care for disabled adults includes understanding how institutions can very easily lapse into becoming oppressive and abusive places for the vulnerable people in their supposed care.
“Like so many other examples before it, Winterbourne View was a One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest nightmare for the disabled adults who had to bear the agony of abuse, and for the families confronted by what their close relatives had to endure.
"Clearly the Care Quality Commission (CQC) failed to protect the residents of Winterbourne View, and the serious case review details the failings of a host of other organisations to pick up on the systematic and horrendous abuse.
“It appears that nearly everyone was taken in by the fine words and manipulation of managers at Castlebeck, the private sector provider responsible for the management of Winterbourne View, so it is encouraging to hear the minister’s plan to examine how corporate bodies can be properly held to account for providing poor care.
"Senior managers and those who commission care would also do well to listen to the professionals who work with adults with learning disabilities day in and day out, and who know that expensive hospital placements are rarely a good way of meeting their care needs in anything apart from an emergency.
“Winterbourne View was staffed mainly by unqualified nursing support staff, who are of course not registered. The government has ducked out of requiring care staff to be registered, arguing that it is too expensive, but what was the cost of the suffering of the 'patients' and their families at Winterbourne View and other institutions like it across the country?
“BASW is part of a concordat of over 50 different associations, formed to protect the rights of those with autism and learning disabilities, and will continue to press for a broader range of care provision for vulnerable people, whose voice has gone unheard for too long.”