National watchdog calls for ‘radical change’ in care of vulnerable adults

A national care regulator has called for a “radical change in culture” to protect vulnerable adults.

SCSWIS, which is responsible for inspecting Scottish care homes and social work services, wants staff to ensure rights of people with learning difficulties and autism are not abused.

It has teamed up with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland and the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability to issue a statement in the wake of a documentary that exposed serious failings at a Bristol care home.

Secret filming for BBC’s Panorama showed residents at Winterbourne View being taunted, slapped and dragged across the floor by staff. Four people have been arrested.

SCSWIS and its partners say the abuse was “shocking” and urged anyone with concerns about the way someone was being cared for in Scotland to contact them.

They said, “What was it about the setting in Winterbourne View that allowed abuse to take place and prevented people from stopping it? Separation, being alone and feeling invisible, all play their part in creating a loss of power and an environment in which abuse can happen.”

They added, “We know that separating people from their communities can be risky and that living in large groups is not always the best environment in which to support positive behaviour.

“Service models must be flexible enough to provide care and support for people with the highest level of need.”

People with learning disabilities should expect respect and freedom from harassment, they said.

The groups said, “We need to work together to promote care and support for all people with learning disabilities and autism that is based on their rights. Having a learning disability does not take away anyone’s human rights.”

The agencies said change is needed now.

“As part of their training, care staff, support workers and nurses need to understand that person-centred practice must be at the heart of everything they do. People with learning disabilities and their families must be routinely involved in developing training and practice.

“A shift in approach is not possible unless their experiences and views are at the centre. No one, whichever care or treatment setting they are in, must be at risk of being deprived of their fundamental rights.”