That phrase “institutional abuse” has cropped up again this week with news that the Commission for Social Care Inspection has applied to deregister a company operating three registered care homes in the Plymouth area.
We are told this is not another scandal on the scale of what happened in Cornwall. However, there are echoes of the Sutton and Merton case with residents – all adults with a learning disability – subjected to a “demeaning” and disempowering culture. This is alleged to have involved treatment such as bullying, name-calling and humiliating punishment, plus residents left to languish with nothing to do except shopping and chores.
The private provider involved is appealing against deregistration, reportedly on the grounds that it was not given “guidance” on how to improve. That seems an extraordinary claim, given the length of time between the initial inspections and follow-up visits in May when care remained inadequate.
Surely the management should have been able to sort things out over an eight-month period given all the toolkits and information on good practice that are available.
Clearly, demands to strip the NHS of responsibility for learning disability services will not result in an end to abuse. Institutional attitudes can prevail in all settings, including the private and voluntary sectors and social services. The message is that everyone has to be on their guard against this mindset if people with learning disabilities are to have any sort of chance to live a life like any other.