I heard a very distressing story yesterday. A young woman with learning disabilities is currently being held at St Andrews. As you know, St Andrews is in Northampton. The woman is from Wales. The family have been prevented from seeing her since November. She is allowed telephone contact but the staff have banned her from speaking in Welsh to her family.
I tweeted about this earlier and many people, rightly, saw it as a Human Rights issue. Others despairingly asked “How do they get away with it?”
I think the answer to that question lies in their award winning programme for improved behaviour. Last time I wrote about St Andrews a member of staff proudly sent me a copy of their programme to tell me I’d got the regime all wrong. I dug it out today and I’ve reproduced it below.
Each patient is allocated a Level between 1 and 6. Level 1 is the most serious with the most restrictions on the patient’s human rights. Level 6 is the level for patients to aspire to. Speaking to families with people detained at St Andrews, moving up the levels is as precarious as wandering around a land mine site. You could have worked your way up to level 4 and then one false move and you’re back to Level 1 again. There’s no planning to it: it’s like a daily game of snakes and ladders with your liberty.
It makes total sense when you think about the years that patients are detained in St Andrews. They have to keep those £12k per week beds filled and this is the perfect model to achieve that. It’s a model that is completely random and dependent on the whims of the staff. If Steven was there he would find it utterly confusing and distressing and would seldom move out of Level 1 in his confusion and distress. I imagine it would be the same for many people with autism and/or learning disabilities.
Anyway, here are the Levels. I’ve only included 1 to 3 and Level 6 but you’ll get the picture.
I wonder what level the young woman from Wales is on?