Castlebeck abuse case could be ‘tip of the iceberg’

The Castlebeck abuse case could be the "tip of the iceberg" because of poor training for people working with challenging clients, social care trainers have warned.

The Castlebeck abuse case could be the “tip of the iceberg” because of poor training for people working with challenging clients, social care trainers have warned.

Connor Kinsella and James Hourihan, who between them have 30 years’ experience as trainers in the management of challenging behaviour, raised concerns about cuts to training budgets and inadequate training provision in services for people in settings such as Winterbourne View, the hospital at the centre of the abuse scandal.

Hourihan, director of Timian Training and Development, said some providers commissioned the wrong training. “They bring in trainers who are ex-military, police or special hospitals to train care staff working with people who are difficult but not dangerous,” he said.  “This is not done out of malice but out of ignorance,” he said.

This week’s BBC Panorama programme on Winterbourne View depicted staff using physical restraint inappropriately and as a first resort – rather than as a last resort. The undercover reporter who posed as a support worker received just a week’s training from the company before starting work, the programme said.

“Training is not just about ticking boxes and saying, there’s a Care Quality Commission inspector coming in next month, let’s get a trainer in, let’s get all staff certificates of training to put in their files,” said Kinsella, lead trainer at JCK Training. “Good organisations give staff training because they want to.”

“My main concern is money, the slashing of training budgets,” he said.

Kinsella said he had also encountered poor staff attitudes in training sessions he had conducted. Referring to a session involving a provider of support for ex-prisoners, he said: “During the training people were checking their e-mails.  When I challenged them, they told me they had to fulfil a quota of tasks during the day,” he said.

“They displayed an appalling us versus them attitude [regarding service users], not collaborative at all. It was if they were saying, we are being paid minimum wage we do not give a toss as long as we get some overtime,” he said.

The British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD), which provides guidance on the use of restraint with people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, has expressed its horror at the abuse revealed at Winterbourne View and called for wholesale change in leadership and training.

Specifically, it has said that:-

  • Service leaders must promote good practice in reducing the use of restrictive practices and promoting positive behavioural support for service users, and educate staff in the knowledge that restraint is potentially dangerous.
  • Those supporting people with a learning disability must be able to access ongoing training and learning, underpinned by a human rights based approach.

Full coverage of the Winterbourne View case


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