Homes and hospitals ‘fail’ adults in care

Almost half of all care homes and treatment centres in England for adults with learning disabilities are failing to protect them, a report has said.

Unannounced inspections were carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), England's health regulator.

Nearly half of the 145 hospitals and care homes inspected by the CQC did not meet required welfare standards.

This comes after abuse was uncovered by BBC Panorama at the Winterbourne View hospital near Bristol.

The inspections focused on examining the general care and welfare of people who used the services as well as whether people were safe from abuse.

The CQC found 48% of the inspected premises did not meet required standards in terms of care, welfare and whether people were safe from abuse. The commission also said independently run facilities were twice as likely to fail as those run by the NHS, it said.

Restraint concerns

The locations were made up of 68 NHS assessment, treatment and secure services, including two residential care homes. There were also 45 independent assessment, treatment and secure services and 32 residential care homes included in the report.

Independent services were found to be 33% compliant with standards, whereas NHS providers were more than twice as likely to meet them, with 68% found to be compliant.

Of the 145 locations inspected, 69 failed to meet one or both standards and 35 failed on both standards.

There were minor concerns over premises that met both standards and only 35 fully met both standards with no concerns, the CQC said.

Its report criticised the failure to treat residents as individuals and said people were staying for years in centres intended for short-term care.

It added that there were "lessons to be learned" by care providers about the use of restraint and an "urgent need" to reduce the use of restraint. Staff should be trained to use more appropriate ways of restraining patients, the report said.

There are 12,000 people in homes and treatment centres in England, according to the Department of Health.

Secret filming

CQC chairman Dame Jo Williams said the report had not found any evidence that pointed to abuse on the scale which was uncovered at Winterbourne View Hospital.

Start Quote

There is compelling evidence that some people with learning disabilities are being failed by health and care services”

End Quote Paul Burstow Care Services Minister

Secret filming by the BBC's Panorama television programme showed patients being physically and verbally abused. Twenty-four patients were transferred from the privately owned Winterbourne View following the BBC investigation and the home was closed in June last year. It has since been bought by Glenside Manor Healthcare Services.

Nine people have admitted abuse charges and two others will face trial at Bristol Crown Court this summer.

Dame Jo added: "While the findings published today highlight serious concerns about the nature of services for people with learning disabilities, we can offer some reassurance.

"However, every single case of poor care that we have found tells a human story and there is plenty of room for improvement to help a group of people whose circumstances make them particularly vulnerable."

'Different human being'

Dame Jo said a copy of the report has been sent to the NHS chief executive, Sir David Nicholson.

She said: "We believe it's really important that those new commissioning bodies, the clinical commissioning groups, really do pay special attention to people with a learning disability."

David and Jill Jack are the parents of 38-year-old James, who has severe learning disabilities and autism, and has spent years in different homes.

Mrs Jack said: "He's been cold. He's been ignored. He's suffered sexual and physical abuse and he has been made into a completely different human being."

Service clarification

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said the government was taking steps to improve the situation outlined in the CQC's report, and that "there is compelling evidence that some people with learning disabilities are being failed by health and care services".

But he added that problems in the sector were not caused by the removal of ring-fenced funding.

"I certainly agree that we need to make sure that it's much clearer what private providers and NHS providers are actually expected to deliver.

"And that's why we have said on the Department of Health's interim report on Winterbourne View that we expect there to be new contract specifications so it's very clear what's expected from services in the future."

Andrea Pope-Smith, of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the CQC's review "acknowledges the extent to which those people have been failed".