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Government pledges action on care home failings

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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”.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I know that paperwork is important but surely staff are around to make life as good as possible for our clients. While we are filling in so many forms it takes us away from the people we look after when we could be showing them a good and fulfilled time.

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  • David Dickinson

    I commissioned NHS and private LD challenging behaviour assessment & treatment services based upon compassion driven paradigms in 1983, 1989, and 1998 just pre-dating but totally consistent with LaVigna style positive practice principles simply based upon old fashioned Quaker style beliefs of aspirations towards unconditional Love (and remember who Jimi explained made that). Everything swimming until new CSCI compliance inspector arrived in 2001 who was obsessed with risk analysis policy development whilst we were up to our eyes tweaking day programme effectiveness to provide hitherto bitter failure experiences of new service users with hope through love (and a little behavioural improvement and drug reduction along the way). During an un-announced visit a service user approached the inspector and said "Hello XXX" to which the inspector uncomfortably replied "Oh, hello" and turned away. Afterwards we immedietelly asked the said service user "do you know that guy?" "Yes" he said .."he was the manager where I used to live..but you're not going to send me back there are you...it was boring..we never did nothin..not like here.." FACT.

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