On 1st March 2017 Channel 4 aired the Dispatches programme “Under Lock & Key”. This highlighted the inhumane treatment some of the patients in St Andrews Northampton had experienced.
PBS4 are sickened to hear once again that people with learning disabilities have been subject to abusive practices. However, unlike all the other “responses to Under Lock & Key” we are appalled that this kind of abuse is not restricted to hospitals.
It can happen in public services
It can happen in Residential Care
And it can happen in supported living
The abuse of people with learning disabilities can happen anywhere.
Supporting people with learning disabilities requires a competent workforce and access to appropriately trained professionals, in all settings. The support needs to be designed around the person and involve those close to the person as much as is possible.
NHS England’s drive to reduce hospital beds by 50% by 2019 is admirable. But the people in these hospitals have ended up there for a reason. Sadly this is usually because the person has been in crisis and there is no alternative. The crisis has usually evolved because of a lack of competent social care. PBS4 do not believe the answer is forcing the closure of hospitals. If there is no “there is no alternative” what support is there for people with learning disabilities in crisis?
PBS4 believe the answer is in line with the values of Positive Behaviour Support. Instead of trying to stop a challenging behaviour, we understand what this behaviour means and help the person to achieve this meaning in better, more efficient ways to make the challenging behaviour unnecessary. So instead of closing hospitals, we are urging NHS England, Local Authorities, and Clinical Commissioning Groups to invest in developing effective solutions that provide alternatives to hospital admissions. If these solutions are better, more effective, and more efficient than admitting people to hospital we will make hospitals redundant and they will close because they have no purpose any more in 21st Century Britain.
People with learning disabilities should be able to expect exactly the same as everyone else. For example, if you need support with diabetes you expect a trained and competent support package to meet this. People with learning disabilities should be able to expect trained and competent support for their learning disability needs.
If we do not invest in quality support and effective solutions for people with learning disabilities there will always a need for hospitals. If we continue to deny people with learning disability access to effective support to meet their needs, society will continue to devalue people and the abuse of people with learning disabilities will continue to happen in any settings. We need to show that we respect people with learning disabilities by developing effective support.