The government has pledged to drive up standards in care homes for people with learning disabilities after a watchdog’s report claimed nearly half were substandard.
Forty-eight per cent of the 145 hospitals and care homes inspected nationwide failed to meet required standards in terms of care and welfare, a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report shows.
Patients were being locked in their rooms, bullied by other patients without action and were spending unacceptably long periods of time in care. One person has spent 17 years in a rehabilitation centre, according to the CQC report.
People were “bored and distressed” and not treated like individuals, according to one former learning disability services patient who helped produce the review.
There were also “lessons to be learned” by care providers about the use of restraint and an “urgent need” to reduce the use of restraint. Staff should be trained to use more appropriate ways of restraining patients, the report said.
The inspections focused on examining the general care and welfare of people who used the services as well as whether people were safe from abuse.
Independent services were twice as likely (33% compliant) to fail to meet these standards as NHS providers (68% compliant).
The unannounced inspections were carried out in the wake of abuse uncovered by the BBC’s Panorama programme at Winterbourne View hospital near Bristol.
The undercover footage showed staff at the hospital appearing to taunt and physically abuse the vulnerable adults in their care.
But there was no evidence in this report that pointed to abuse on the scale uncovered at Winterbourne View hospital, CQC chairman Dame Jo Williams said.
Dame Jo said: “All providers need to look at what we found, question themselves day in, day out about whether or not they are meeting the standards and really keeping people safe.”
Dame Jo said a copy of the CQC report has been sent to the NHS chief executive, Sir David Nicholson.
She said: “We believe it’s really important that those new commissioning bodies, the clinical commissioning groups, really do pay special attention to people with a learning disability.
“They must not do it alone, they must do it with their partners, but we know that, unless they do pay special attention to this, it’s all too easy for people with learning disabilities to be overlooked.”
The Winterbourne View scandal also prompted a Government review into how the health and care system supports people with learning disabilities.
The Department of Health (DoH) today announced a series of proposals aimed at tackling the worst aspects of the care of people with learning disabilities or autism and challenging behaviour, which it said could lead to “inexcusable abuse”.