Little Progress for Learning Disability Reform

[box] Rob Cleaver reports on the lack of ‘tangible progress’ in the fight for Learning Disability reform [/box]

sir autism

The author of Winterborne View – Time for Change believes that there has been no ‘tangible progress’ six months after the publishing of his damning findings.

Sir Stephen Bubb, in the wake of the 2011 abuse scandal at the care home same name, was tasked with chairing a report into the standards of care for those with learning disabilities. Having found that the quality of care was broadly poor, recommendations were published back in November which included the closure of inappropriate in-patient facilities and the creation of ‘A Charter of Rights’ for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. Other suggestions included better education for staff members and investment into community based care rather than specialised in-patient units.

However, Sir Stephen believes that there has been little evidence of progress since, claiming there has been no dialogue between NHS England, the private sector and charities in regards to how best to implement his recommendations. “There’s huge skepticism that anything will happen. The NHS needs to prove them wrong and until I see action on the ground I will continue to hold the government to account.”

Back in 2011, BBC Panorama reported on the sickening maltreatment of vulnerable in-patients at Winterborne View, a private residential care home in Bristol, which eventually led to six staff members being jailed for their part in the abuse. The recommendations advocated the closure of such institutions and the promotion of community based care as a credible alternative.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said that change would continue to be slow until community based care improved significantly. “We must invest in a highly skilled community workforce that specialises in supporting children and adults with learning disabilities.”

Although Sir Stephen welcomed the Care Act which came into place in April, he stated that much is still to be done to improve the lives of those with learning difficulties and that a further, more formal review of progress in six month’s time may not be so lenient.

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