Behind closed doors

3 Jun

It’s been a long day & night, I finally rest my head on my pillow a little after 4 am, you would think sleep was imminent. How wrong this was, in-fact little if not any sleep was had at all!

I closed my eyes and there she was, a child trapped in a young woman’s body, doused in water, shaking and screaming out for her mother!

It was an image that many would now find trapped at the front of their mind, unable to find its way out.

Some hours before I had sat sobbing as I watched the broadcast of BBC ones Panorama! It was deeply shocking, horrifying  & incredible heartbreaking TV.

If this was the case, then why did I watch it, why not turn it off? As hard as it was to witness the horrors unfolding at Winterbourne View… It was something that needed to be seen!

Now warm & safe in my bed I was hunted by the realisation of the situation. How many more were there… How many more care homes are operating in such a horrendous manner? We already know that Winterbourne are part of the Castlebeck chain of independently ran care homes with an estimated turnover of ninety-million pounds! Then there are the undiscovered, the thought chills me to the bone!

Within my head there are so many thoughts, questions that turn my stomach with fear.

How many more unqualified, under-trained monsters are being given the title support worker or carer?

How many whistle blowers have raised concerns and seen them swept under the carpet?

How many past complaints to the ‘Care Quality Commission‘ (CQC) have been ignored, emails deleted without a second thought for those that may be in danger? I wonder how many complaints will continue to be ignored?

How many cases of abuse have been missed at the hands of the CQC due to poor inspections of care homes?

How Many victims young & old, who are laid in their beds , will wake to the hands of evil as it grabs ahold of them and drags them from their feet?


As a mother, a human being my arms longed to hold them young victims, to keep them safe from harm. With every act of torture my heart sank a little more, the anger within me tore at my gut as I felt powerless, so bloody powerless!

Some may say that to have anger within yourself is a bad thing but I’m sure those that like me sat and watched that report, feel exactly the same way I do. The only good that can come from such anger is to channel it into something positive such as change!

Its well documented that social care has been worse hit by the government cuts, leaving the most vulnerable in frightening situations. This is anything from children with special educational needs not getting the support needed; individuals with mental heath problems facing the stress of reassessments leading to the loss of incapacity benefit; the closure of support groups & day centres and those in care homes. Yet the government  fail to address such issues despite the compiling evidence that keeps on growing. Things shouldn’t have to get this far before action is taken, yet somehow it always does.

The media has brought about some pretty disturbing headlines off late. Although I am In the uttermost agreement that those seen abusing the young  residents residing at Winterbourne view are total scum that in my opinion should not have been released on bail, we have to look at the bigger picture.

The CQC, local authority and management of Castlebeck have a lot of explaining to do. As mentioned the CQC had not only inspected Winterbourne view more than once, but also failed to respond to the whistle-blower who is reported to have contacted them on three occasions.

The Local Authority use the tax payers money to fund placements at ‘Winterbourne View’ for  young adults with autism, learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. With a weekly fee of up to £3,500 (that and the fact they have a duty of care), you would have thought the Local Authority would carry out all the appropriate checks before splashing the cash.

Last but not least you have the management of the establishment. Are you telling me that this was unknown to them? Does this included the upstairs locked corridor with bedrooms either side, no CCTV but a security system at each end! Does this not ring alarm bells? This is an area that holds the rule, “NO GUEST ALLOWED” Yet In a statement Castlebeck said, “We are deeply distressed by the completely unacceptable and appalling behaviour of a small number of our employees at one of our facilities…” (Full response) Castlebeck itself is owned by a Jersey-based investment vehicle called Lydian Capital. It is said that Lydian Capital is backed by a group of Irish tycoons led by JP McManus, John Magnier and Dermot Desmond.

The guardian reported,“Castlebeck is not the only care home business owned by the group. A Jersey investment vehicle called Grove Limited – chaired by fellow Irishman, Denis Brosnan – also counts Desmond, McManus and Magnier among its investors. It controls the Barchester Healthcare empire of more than 200 homes, making it the second largest in the UK behind Bupa and Four Seasons Healthcare.” For me this is terrifying news.

The latest report given by the guardian tells how this isn’t the first time the quality of care at Castlebeck facilities have come under scrutiny. With the mention of a death that may have been party caused by restraint (an open verdict was given) There was also an alleged sexual assault that was not reported by staff to management nor the  police. This alongside smelly dirty accommodation that had poor infection control was discovered during an unannounced inspection (which clearly shows the need for such measures) The guardian have named the semi-secure hospital/care home for men with learning disabilities & autism as, ‘Cedar Vale’ .

 Was the place closed down? It would seem not! Castlebeck claim the problem has now been addressed…

As a mother to a child on the autism spectrum I found the report extremely upsetting, yet it’s my opinion that any half decent human being would feel this way following a programme so direful it shocked the UK and beyond!

Yes, we need a more effective inspection regime and no we should not employ those who are under-qualified or have not undergone the appropriate training needed to care for those with complex needs. 


Correct me if I’m wrong, When health and safety inspections are carried out in food courts, restaurants and take away outlets, given they are not up to scratch they are closed down! Why isn’t it the same for a place that has a duty of care to those with complex needs and autism? I struggle to find any explanation as to why the place wasn’t and still isn’t closed down! There is no need for talk or pending investigations, Panorama provide unquestionable evidence! What more is needed

The only answer I can come up with is that the NHS/Local authority have nowhere to place the residents from the home if they are forced to move them. At the end of the day it all comes down to money and its likely no-one wants to foot the bill, they never do!

Winterbourne View is a place that needs closing down for the sake of the residents and their families.

So come people are we going to stand back & allow any more shame on our country, or are we going to do something about it? Remember two voices are better than one so, lets start talking! 

Did you watch the Panorama report on Tuesday 31st May or see it in the news? 

Do you want to try to help change the system?

Do you think the care home in question should remain open?

Maybe you just want to have your voice heard by speaking up for the vulnerable  

There are a number of things you can do to help prompt change!

  • Sign the online petition, created by the National Autistic Society (NAS);
  • Contact your local MP (Find your MP with this twitter list);
  • Leave me a comment;
  • Join the discussions on Twitter using the #Panorama;
  • Blog  about it and Link up to other blogs;
  • Join in with today’s (Friday 3rd June) tweet storm Friday. Just log on to twitter & tweet your comments using the tag: #aaukcampagin;
  • Join one of the many facebook groups.

Bloggers Reactions 

These bloggers tell it like it is!

Watch the BBC Panorama Report: Here

13 Responses to “Behind closed doors”

  1. clairelouise82 June 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    Thanks it’s a great idea to connect the post together that way they are easier to follow and as they say 2 voice are better then one.
    Thanks to everyone who’s took the time to comment and give their opinion on this horror story.

  2. Scottish Mum June 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Just popping over to add your link to mine for this horrible situation.

  3. jennie June 5, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    I did not watch the programme but you have put forward astrong and passionate argument. It obviously upset you to see the images and learn what was happening in thi care setting to vulnerable people. I hope that your campaign for change is a success. I know it is hard to fight the system even when you know you are right to do so x

  4. earlpurple June 5, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    I watched this programme too. Actually I watched it on iPlayer because I heard so much about it. It is hard not to feel provoked by the way these people were being treated and bullied.

    The big problem is perhaps the belief that as long as these people weren’t actually being physically assaulted, that everything would be ok.

    These people had no freedom – it had been taken away from them. The home should be closed down because these people had no business being there when they should have been close to their families, and getting care as required.

    Claire, you have a lot to worry about with regards the treatment of your son. As someone with Aspergers I know what it is like to feel constantly rejected by people for no particular reason. And being cast aside by people you thought were your friends with no explanation.

  5. Jamie June 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    I saw it and like everyone else I cried. I agree with what u have posted and will back any campaign for change

  6. Deb @ Aspergers family life and me June 4, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Hi Claire, A brilliant post that I can’t add much to either as I still feel incredibly upset about what I saw. I’ve now joined you and the other bloggers and have just written a post on my thoughts about care. Deb x

  7. Casdok June 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    I am still reeling from it and i only managed to watch 2 mins.

  8. Katie June 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I don’t agree with itsmotherswork (sorry)
    I can’t see how allowing the home to remain open is an answer? Like Claire said we are talking serious abuse by staff at the home. To leave them at the home will do more harm then good in my opinion. I hope that the coverage alone brings them down. I sure as hell wouldn’t choose this home for any of my children if needed. Let’s hope their profits fall to dangerous lows and panorama causes such damage they don’t have an option but to shut up shop. Sickos


  9. Itsmotherswork June 3, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I think this is a great and impassioned blogpost. I commend the ‘to do’ list at the end, and I think the more that the general public show how strongly they feel about good quality social care for adults and children, the better.

    I wanted to say a couple of things about regulation and the closure of homes / settings.

    I have worked as a regulator (though not directly in this field) and it is often the case that a setting is not immediately closed as a result of the discovery of bad practice. This is not because regulation has failed, but because there are lots of different ways in which a regulator can act to ensure that vulnerable people are safeguarded and practice is improved which stop short of closing a setting. For example, the regulator will be able to take ‘enforcement action’ of various types, will usually be able to bring prosecutions under the regulatory framework within which they operate, may be able to suspend the registration of the organisation temporarily, or prevent a setting from taking in more clients. The main reason why homes and settings are not summarily closed is because – unpalatable as it sounds – moving the residents to new provision immediately may not be in their best interests: the disruption itself may be distressing, it may take time to find somewhere new that is suitable, it may take time to find somewhere with a vacancy, or at least somewhere which is close to the family so that visiting is easy. I have been involved in discussions where all the vaious options have been evaluated – for every resident – and closure has been ruled out.

    It would be great if there were residential care homes standing by in every neighbourhood with fully trained, expert staff, and vacancies available so that if one service was found wanting a person could be immediately and reassuringly transferred to a new facility. This unused capacity within the system would be known in business and government terms as “inefficiency”. It is the same reason why wards are closed in hospitals. We should understand that when government wants us to cut down ‘waste’ in public services, what they tend to mean is this unused capacity, which could potentially give commissioners room to manoeuvre.

    It would also be great if every time a placement was found for a vulnerable person, the local authority commissioner of that placement was in a position to undertake a full, investigative assessment of that placement before committing to it. Of course, in a system with very little capacity there are often few choices, and very little time in which to make them. Skilling up and resourcing a local authority to undertake this level of investigation is an expensive challenge. These jobs in local government are the “non-jobs”, the bureaucrats, the non-frontline roles that central government tells us we shouldn’t be spending our money on. I wonder how much the Panorama programme cost to produce, and how that compares with a local authority social care budget?

    None of this is to excuse what happened. In particular, the CQC plainly failed by not investigating a clear allegation of abuse. If it had investigated but chosen to take a course of action the public disagreed with, that would be a different matter.

    So I guess what I am saying is that central government should be just as strongly challenged about its role in this – particularly how it characterises ‘inefficiency’ in the system and how it stigmatises the use of taxpayers’ money for non-frontline tasks, even though many of these are essential.

    And I would caution against campaigning for any particular home or setting to be closed, unless you have first – hand knowledge of it. Public outrage is entirely justified, but if you successfully campaign to close a residential home, rather than to ensure it makes proper improvements to the way it looks after residents, you may end up harming the residents you are trying to protect.

  10. cb June 3, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    Great post. Not really much to add. I watched. I was appalled. I think we need to make sure that everything is done to keep the momentum in the public view so this doesn’t get forgotten when the next news story comes around.

  11. MrsP June 3, 2011 at 5:51 am #

    An inspirational post. I have tweeted a link too. It is all about the money, I hope things do change. These places should be subject to the strict controls & inspections akin to childcare providers where Ofsted are the regulatory body. If childcare is not up to scratch it is subject to improvement measures, inspected more often or shut down. Why are people with complex needs L.D’s etc. not given same protection? As a layman, I had assumed as legislation for safeguarding vulnerable adults is in place, that they were. In practice they are clearly not! They need others to be their voice.


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