One step forwards – 888 steps back.
Have a read of this announcement to build a new hospital for people with mental health, autism or learning difficulties in Northampton. It is on the site of the old Northampton Lunatic Asylum.
So, so much wrong with it, it’s hard to know where to start. The CEO of St Andrews (the charity!!!! behind the project) says:
“Our new building will help to meet the increasing demand for mental health services for young people across the country”.
At the very same time that all the great and the good of the disability world are talking about “keeping it local” and helping people stay and build quality lives in their own communities, along comes a new build that is going to be looking for people all over the country.
I have previous with St Andrews. It was one of the places that Hillingdon accepted a tender from back in 2010 for providing a service for Steven. It was to be based at their existing Northampton hospital. I phoned them to discuss the tender and before I could get a word in edgeways, the woman launched into a sales pitch that would put Katrina Pearcey to shame. I could understand about half of what she said – the rest was corporate, PR bollocks. Funnily enough, after I told her that Steven’s case was due to come to court and that there was a huge media interest in his situation, she cooled considerably. And that was the last we heard from Northampton. But reading the press article today and looking at St Andrews website (have a look yourself but have a stiff drink to hand), I fantasise what would have happened to Steven if he had gone there. He would probably still be there, four years later, in a living hell.
There are three words in the release that chill me and leave me furious at the same time. Read this paragraph –
“It will provide care to young people from across the United Kingdom, and alongside 110 residential beds, it will include a school, sports and therapy areas, and a number of landscaped courtyards.”
110 Residential Beds
All we need to know is in those three words. A home is not defined by the number of its beds. Hospitals perhaps but that has nothing to do with anything “residential”. It does mean that 110 people are likely to end up there, forgotten, open to abuse and with no acknowledgement of the importance of person centred care. They will be patients forever – just like the many patients of the old Northampton lunatic asylum. The CEO talks about a “safe environment” but I don’t see how he can make that claim in an institution so large. In scale, it will be similar to a Sainsbury’s warehouse.
And it’s a charity. I wonder what Sir Stephen Bubb and his breakfast club make of that. When they talk about the 3rd sector providing residential placements with block contracts, is this the kind of thing he has in mind? It sure isn’t hell, the kind of thing that most people would have in mind as a home for the most vulnerable people in society.
Do you think it’s possible to mug an MP and get the #LBBill passed next week? It can’t come soon enough to stop monstrosities like this making obscene amounts of money out of our sons and daughters and family members. If you visit the St Andrews website check out the salaries of the top bods – and weep. My son and your daughter’s life is being manipulated to fund these fat cats. My son and your daughter’s normal autistic response to a life experience is being pathologised with subsequent medication to enable unspeakable wages and bonuses.
Any commissioner planning to send one of their local people to St Andrews should hang their head in shame.
But they probably won’t.