Today Sir Stephen Bubb presented his final report in his trilogy of reports into learning disability care. It seems a long time ago that the Winterbourne View Concordat collapsed and Sir Bubb was tasked with the transforming care programme. Today marked the end of Bubb’s input. Where are we?
Most of the recommendations from the first reports still stand but today Sir Bubb introduced two further ideas. Firstly, an LD Commissioner is needed to bring all the interested parties together and to hold those parties to account. The second recommendation was to have a national PBS standard for all care workers.
A Commissioner may not be a bad idea but we shouldn’t hold our breath that there will be much holding to account. When Jeremy Hunt announces that he hasn’t the power to intervene at Southern Health, will an LD Commissioner have any more success. Will an LD Commissioner be able to hold to account those invisible, silent LA commissioners who always get off Scott free whenever there’s a national LD scandal.
As for having a national Positive Behaviour Support accreditation… I know the PBS possee will jump on me but having a PBS qualification would be a single reason for me not to hire a support worker. A PBS badge wouldn’t get within a mile of my job spec.
What has the LD world made of Sir Blubb’s last course? Alistair Burt rather dismissively announced that there is currently another action plan being drawn up. Just what we need – another action plan. The Department of Health gobbled up and spat out Sir Bubb with their usual bland, empty statement. Professor Richard Hastings unsurprisingly jumped on the PBS announcement and preened as he saw some serious nest feathering in the pipeline. Harold and Hilda, who are back together again, called for…..stuff. (It’s funny how Harold and Hilda never mention they were key members of the original concordat. Must have slipped their minds). And thousands of LD people and their families across the country nutted their living room walls.
Everything is dehumanised. Everything is presented as so complicated and challenging. Processes and buildings loom large. People hardly appear at all.
Let’s pare all this back. What do people need? A home. A support package. That’s it.
A home shouldn’t be too difficult. Either the person moves back to the home from whence they came or they move to a new home. The homes already exist. Not units. Not placements. Real actual homes. Given Steven’s current situation, I had a look for two bed properties locally this morning. I found 37 possibles. In one small village. No more fudging – the homes are there.
What about the staff? I think it’s a real shame that there isn’t a national register/directory of care workers. I can search the internet and find individual counsellors, plumbers, personal trainers but I can’t find any support workers. The reports always bemoan the lack of training. But don’t we have to take a leap of faith and let people learn on the job. I want someone skilled to work with Steven and aren’t that interested that they’ve worked with a man with dementia in Croydon. My requirements in a support worker initially are embarrassingly straightforward:
1. They need to be interested in Steven.
2. They need to understand that Steven’s human rights are the bedrock.
3. They need to be willing to throw themselves into pretty much anything that interests Steven.
4. They need to be interested in learning and their own personal & professional development.
5. They need to have a good sense of humour.
That’s it. Specifics can be learned as they learn about Steven. Great that you’ve done lots of courses about autism but I want you to engage with my son, not a case study. You are employed to be a co passenger on his journey. Let him navigate. Let him drive. You’ll learn loads and you’ll have a bloody good time.
Back to Bubb. As the waitresses clear away the black pudding smeared plates and the cleaners Hoover up the last of the croissant crumbs, what happens next? Who knows. We know there’ll be another action plan. Fair play to Sir Stephen, at the last knockings he attempted to join the dots and referred to the Mazars report.
Sadly, therein lies the clue to what happens next. What’s happened since Mazars? Absolutely fuck all. Except a deliberate and purposeful suppressing of any action. Mark Lamb wrote today that more taskforce, more action plans and zilch change is a form of psychological abuse of learning disabled people and their families. He’s right. Despite your gut instinct and the knowledge of years of experience, it is human nature to hope. The players know that and use that to maintain their power.
Now that the Bubb breakfasts are history, there is likely to be a surplus mountain of bacon. I suggest we fill our faces. We need our stamina because the change is only going to come from us.