This post is dedicated to Thomas Rawnsley, a decent young chap, who died yesterday after having a heart attack on Sunday evening. Thomas had spent the last two years of his life in ATUs. Both Thomas and his family wanted to live at home, or in his own place near to his family. It never happened.

Has anyone ever met a social care commissioner? I haven’t. Or if I have, I didn’t know they were a commissioner.

Do they have a background in social care?

If I met one, the first question I would ask is: “what do you see as the advantages of removing someone with autism and/or learning difficulties from their home and putting them in an alien, clinical environment for an unspecified (usually very long. The NAO report yesterday said that the average time spent in in-patient settings is 17 years) period?

Then I’d like to ask the following questions (in random order):

Do you know what, if any, assessment and treatment takes place in an assessment and treatment unit?

Do you believe, and why, “treatment” is a suitable course of action for someone without a mental health problem but with a learning disability?

Is it possible that what you identify as “challenging behaviour” might actually be created and exacerbated by the environment you have put the person in?

How do you square all the losses the person will experience by being in an ATU (family, friends, routines, sense of security) with the life they will have in the ATU?

Do you see a person with autism or a learning difficulty as human?

Do you believe that a person with autism/learning difficulty has the same Article 8 human rights (Right to private, family life) and Article 5 Human Rights as the rest of the population?

How are the big bucks made by incarcerating someone in an ATU?

Can you explain to me what a Panel is and why the make up and process of a Panel has to be so secretive?

If someone dies a preventable death in an ATU that you have sent them to, do you have any accountability?

If the High Court judges that you have unlawfully detained someone in an ATU for a year, do you have any accountability?

Would you like to spend 17 years away from your family and friends, be dosed to the eyeballs on antipsychotics, be forced to prone restraint whenever you express your feelings about your circumstances, and have no life worth living?

Thank you Mr/Ms commissioner – I’ll let you get on with your day now.

19 thoughts on “Crimes”

    1. It needs to be said to the government minister in charge of Social Services.

      It needs to be said to the councillors who are responsible for social services in their borough.

      Commiaaioners are doing the dirty work of the councillors who employed them. Most I imagine have agreed in their contract of employment to safequard the reputation of the council before the well being of a person with a learning disability.

      Commissioners are just ‘following orders’. Where have we heard that excuse before?

  1. Great questions – I wish they could be answered.
    Twp things in Matthew Smith ‘s @indigojo_uk blog about Thomas Rawnsley stood out for me.
    1)The local care trust could not supply the care package Thomas needed to be cared for in his own home. – why?
    2) One of the reasons Thomas was sent to the ATU in Sheffield seems to be that the unit might have to close if he didn’t.
    System-centred reasoning and awful examples of the total lack of progress post Winterbourne

    1. I’ve always believed that was the main reason why they carted Steven off to the ATU. It was a 4 bed unit & only 3 beds in use and one of the residents due to move on. Wouldn’t have been viable with only 2 beds filled.

  2. Parents know what is best for their children. The person concerned (yes, they ARE a person), know what they want yet so called “professionals” think they have the answer and cause disruption and upset for all concerned. RIP dear Thomas x

  3. Would it be too personal to ask your hypothetical person: “Would you want anybody you care about living in such a place for an unspecified number of years ?
    There has to be a better way. People with ASD/LD will have behaviors which are very difficult to live with.It is also difficult to figure out what you can about the possible triggers for the behavior and what can be done to change it or modify it when its making things difficult or dangerous for the person. A treatment unit should treat, The person should be there with a clear time limited plan .Above all the risk that being away from home could worsen the very behaviors making home problematic should be openly discussed.Its a terrible risk.

  4. At times in the past, I might have leapt at the idea of having my daughter “assessed” – not any more! It isn’t about assessment and treatment is it? It is about containment, and various probably doomed attempt at modifying behaviour that no-one bothers to understand. Some of the theories and techniques MAY have some value if tailored to an individual, and applied sensitively but they are still more about forcing people to conform and become less expensive, and with the wrong people applying it, disastrous. I am STILL trying to undo the damage some clumsy “Independence Training” caused years ago.

    The College I worked at ran courses for people with LD. Lots of well meaning enthusiasm, not much real expertise. I met some charming people who eagerly participated in these courses – for want of too many other choices. Behaviour modified into passive acquiescence, easier to handle, but not having that much opportunity for a more satisfying life.

  5. Mark – Are u aware of the UN Convention for Persons With Disabilities – there are some wondeful clasuses written by disabled people you may want to get your hands on – when we met about the LBBill – we wanted UNCODP to be at the core of the bill – It was written because in many cases the European Conventtion on Human Rights dealt inadequately with understanding what these rights mean for disabled people. The UNCPD attempted to spell out what such rights would mean for disabled people.

  6. I would be interested in seeing how the “presumption for mainstream education” in the Children and Families Act will be interpreted alongside UNCPD Article 24 – state’s obligation to promote inclusive education with speciifc actions. The problem with the CFA is that presumption of mainstream just gets you thorugh the door of a mainstream school / college. So there will be a very strong reliance on UNCPD to kick CFA into line –

  7. “Like” is entirely the wrong button to be clicking in response to this post but I clicked it anyway in appreciation that you wrote this. I feel a tighter wrench in my stomach with each such story that comes to light. And I daren’t consider how many similar stories simply pass without mention. This despicable treatment of people is endemic and deeply embedded in our ‘services’ culture. It starts with very young children. In our county, the most senior clinical psychologist at the children’s hospital is retiring this year. The NHS trust is not going to replace her. Instead, it proposes to focus the assessments of the remaining members of the team on school-age children. All early years multi disciplinary assessments will cease and children will already be stuck in the mainstream schooling system before they’re even offered a diagnosis of a pervasive developmental disorder, never mind anything approaching support. So much for early intervention. Xx

    1. Kerry, under the CFA, an eligible child is entitled to an EHCP from birth. A child about whom concerns are raised MUST be evaluated, and given a full assessment if the concerns are validated, irrespective of diagnosis (or none). If the LA feels it needs a paediatrician’s input to the process,and there is none available locally, the LA officers will just have to find one from further afield.
      I know how useful it is to have a specific diagnosis – it’s a supremely handy stick when it comes to knocking some sense into obstructive LA heads – but the EHCP is there to address the child’s needs, not their diagnosis (if any). Show where the child has relevant needs, and the provision has to be made in the EHCP.
      It may, of course, need some – or a lot – of the old drip-drip technique to get the LA to accept this.

      1. Hi Kara, our experience of LA provision has not been quite so straightforward or easy to come by, I’m afraid to say. The rules for statements still apply in our case until transference to EHCP at some point between now and 2018. The battle for a statement has been a long one and is not over yet. We’ve got a tribunal hearing in March. What the CFA was allegedly ‘designed’ to achieve and what it actually achieves in reality are, sadly, two different things. It is still early days. Time will tell. Xx

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