Tag Archives: Violence and Abuse

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?

MY GUESS IS… TO MANY!

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. 

WHY IN GODS NAME IS THIS PLACE STILL OPEN?

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

Little man’s television debut

12 Apr

A few weeks back I got a call from Anna Kennedy regarding a bullying campaign she is currently working on.

Anna had read a recent post on the blog where I raised the issue of bullying. Little man had been at a local park with friend and his mother. While at park an incident took place which resulted In my little man being bullied by a group of teenager boys where he sadly got punched in the stomach by one whom was at least eighteen years of age.

It had also recently came to light that my past concerns that Little man had been a victim of bullying during the first few years at school were in-fact justifiable when I unearthed some accident reports in his education records documenting a string of incidents over a three month period! It was pretty upsetting reading how your child had been whacked over the head with a packed lunch-box and a skipping rope and another highlighting the disturbing facts of how your child was strangled by one of his peers. I was absolutely fuming and shocked that such important information had not been disclosed before, I was left feeling somewhat guilty that I had not been able to protect my son from these horrible incidents of bullying.

Anna asked If little man would be interested in taking part in a short news report which would be filmed for the programme ‘London Tonight‘ aired weekdays ITV1 at six o’clock. Only thing was the filming was to take place the following day. Having spoken to both Anna and the reporter who was due to run the story, I had a chat with the little guy himself, “After all this would need to be his decision!” After many questions, some anxiety that was quickly replaced with excitement, Little man decided he would go for it!

With that I confirmed his participation in the filming and sorted all the necessary arrangements with the reporter. With everything in place I decided that now would be a great time to grab some much needed sleep in-order to prepare for the events of the following day! However Little man had other ideas and as normal sleep wasn’t one off them. Laid in bed I could hear little man chatting away happily to himself in his bedroom, and when prompted on what he was doing, I was informed that he was running over his lines in preparation for his appearance on TV.

With a yawn so big I almost swallowed everything in sight, I sat down beside him and tried my best to explain how things would likely proceed and that I was sure that the a speech really wouldn’t be required.

Somewhere between the smalls hours of three and four am Little man finally entered the land of nod, ‘Yes it was late for a ten year old Little boy to have fallen asleep’, but in our house this was nothing new and in actually fact it was a normality .

Morning fell and this mummy had not had a wink of sleep given that over-tiredness had grabbed ahold of me at some point during the course of the night. The entire morning turned into one of those ‘Mornings’, the ones that just don’t seem to go as you planed them to! Instead of being able to do my normal morning madness and prepare little man for his tv debut scheduled for later that afternoon, I instead found that every single person I had tried desperately hard to get a hold of during the course of last week had now decided it was the right time to contact me! I received one call after another and with a string of important issues to deal with (Mainly all centred around little man’s special educational needs) and the fact that I knew that contact would be lost resulting in me chasing people up if I even dared made the suggestion of them calling me back at a more convenient time, So, for these reasons and more the calls were unavoidable. By the time I had finally finished, I was left with a little more then an hour to get little man bathed, feed and ready! To some off you reading this such a task is a breeze but for us it’s a daily struggle. It will take at least half an hour (on a good day) to convince little man that it’s in his best interest to have a bath! Yes, I agree this isn’t pleasant, but the fact my little guy hates to bath is purely a sensory issue and a power shower is his preference. However we don’t have a power shower at present and he can’t always run of to his nanny requesting he uses hers!

I had spent most of the night worried that little man would manage to insult the reporter or use a string of obscenities in his conversation with her. During the course of our manic morning it had not entered my head given that it hadn’t been given the chance! Now as little man munched of his breakfast come lunch and almost tipped into meltdown mode on discovering I had loaded his dirty track-pants into the washing machine given he had finally taken them off, I started to worry!

Before my fears could swing into overdrive, the reporter arrived. I did a short interview which thankful wasn’t aired (I had bags that would carry a weeks shopping hanging from my eyes, and an appearance that would scare zombies!) Then it was time for little mans big moment and with a massive sigh of relieve I’m pleased to report he did great!!!

The report was aired that same evening and little man went loopy when he saw himself on the box! He phoned everyone he knew and told complete strangers while we walked on the street.

Yep, It definitely went to his head as he asked me what my thoughts were on him contacting the BBC to request an audition for Eastenders! I even found him signing his autograph for his sisters bewildered friend. He really did considered himself as a celeb for weeks and likely still does.

If you or a family member on the autism spectrum have been affected by bullying, or your just interested in finding out more about Anna Kennedy’s ‘No to Autism bullying’ campaign then visit Anna Kennedy online or add a campaign badge to to facebook or twitter pic

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