Six years ago a BBC Panorama programme uncovered appalling systemic abuse of vulnerable people at the Winterbourne View care home near Bristol. There was national outrage. The government was forced to review how placements in assessment and treatment centres were commissioned.
Six years later, Channel 4’s Dispatches programme ‘Under lock and key’, broadcast last night, revealed that inappropriate care is still being provided in clinical services. Individuals are being subjected to seclusion, face-down restraint (which can restrict breathing) and pharmaceutical koshes.
At Autism Together we are sad and frustrated. There is no justification in a civilized and compassionate society for the shocking standards of care highlighted in Dispatches.
Whilst there is, on occasion, a need for people on the autism spectrum to receive clinical inpatient care and support, this needs to be well managed and always with an effective discharge pathway in place.
Systems already exist to support individuals back into their community however, all too often these are ignored, in favour of keeping people ‘out of sight and out of mind’. Urgent changes must be made:
- Families and individuals need to be at the centre of all care planning.
- There must be more robust and responsive procedures in place for dealing with concerns raised by the next of kin.
- More funding is required to pay for specialist community-based support, provided by experienced and skilled organizations, to ensure discharge from inpatient care is possible.
For nearly 50 years Autism Together has been supporting people on the autism spectrum to achieve positive outcomes in their lives. As a specialist provider of high quality services we can evidence how person-centred support, provided by highly trained staff enhances the life experiences of the most complex individuals on the autism spectrum.
We urge the government to address the significant funding shortfall in specialist community placements and to speed up the Transforming Care programme to ensure that individuals on the autism spectrum receive the care and support that they deserve in their communities.