Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Close the units down, close the units down, close the bloody units down you bloody bunch of shites

Anthem for ATUs

Re-blogged from https://whobyf1re.wordpress.com/

With acknowledgments to the wonderful Mitch Benn (from 8:55 onwards)

I don't need to say anything more.......press play and listen

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Justice Together

Re-posted here from 'Bringing Us Together'
Thomas Rawnsley, a young man with autism, Down’s syndrome and learning difficulties, who was under the care of his local authority, died on Wednesday this week (4/2/15). Thomas had been placed by the Court of Protection in a specialist facility against his wishes and against the wishes of his family.
His family had been fighting for 3 years to get him back home. During this time, Thomas suffered abuse at the hands of care staff. His story, documented here and here, is a terrible indictment of our care system and how we treat people who have learning difficulties (LD) and are vulnerable.
It is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. You can read here about the sad death of Connor Sparrowhawk and here of Nico Reed, both in specialist care facilities. Despite a commitment from the government in Transforming Care: A national response Winterbourne View Hospital to ensure that all young people with LD are moved out of these facilities and into appropriate placements in their communities by June 2014, there are currently still 2,600 young people with LD in specialist facilities.  The LB Bill is looking to introduce a Private Member’s Bill so that the law helps our young people to stay in their local community.
However, many families have experienced, are experiencing and will experience similar in the future.  So as the wheels of change move slowly, ever-pausing, in their journey to a world where our children and young people are an integral part of our community, Bringing Us Together and friends wanted to try to do something to help
Justice Together 
We know that there are many people and organisations out there with knowledge, experience and advice to offer to families in this kind of crisis, but often the family do not know they exist, so their support comes too late or not at all.
Bringing Us Together and friends want to produce a database of all the support available to families who need help when they are in crisis; whether their child is detained against their will and the will of their families, or if they are involved in a safeguarding incident with a provider/educational provision or if the families themselves are victims of the system.
Short Term Goal:
To produce and provide a database of ALL support available to families.
Bringing Us Together will co-ordinate Justice Together.
Long Term Goal:
To provide as much support as possible to families of children and young people with disabilities who are in crisis
Where possible, to provide resources and support to stop the progression of crises that lead to any form of deprivation of liberty
To raise public awareness of the issues relating to any form of deprivation of liberty and other safeguarding issues for people with disabilities
We will use the knowledge and information to raise awareness with families.
Informed parents will be able to make informed choices and decisions.
Children and young people with disabilities will not die following any kind of detention in state care
Children and young people with disabilities will not be detained against their wishes/the wishes of their families in inappropriate state funded facilities
Good quality community placements will be found for children and young people with disabilities who are at risk of any form of detention or are in crisis
Children and young people with disabilities will be acknowledged as “reliable” witnesses
How will it work?
Bringing Us Together will co-ordinate Justice Together.
In time, and with funding, there will be regional Justice Together Co-ordinators.
Regional Justice Together Co-ordinators will put together and maintain databases of people in their region with skills and knowledge, who are willing to assist Justice Together on a voluntary basis
Regional Justice Together Co-ordinators will put together a list of good quality providers in their region
Regional Justice Together Co-ordinators will deploy their team of appropriately skilled and knowledgeable volunteers who can quickly come together to provide advice, guidance, advocacy, emotional and practical support to the family in crisis
For families heading towards crisis, the same will be available but on a smaller and less intensive scale
How can you help?
Can you offer support to a family? If so, what experience do you have and which local authority areas can you offer the support in?
Do you have experience with fundraising or grant writing? We would like key people offering support (e.g. Regional Co-ordinators) to be recompensed, and we are seeking to cover all volunteer-related expenses, so we need funds to do that.
Do you use social media or do you blog? We need people who can share news and information. We need to make people aware of Justice Together.
Do you know the providers in your local area?
Do you have expertise in a specific area (such as advocacy, psychology, social work, health, etc) that you are willing to share with others?
Do you have technical expertise to offer for databases, SQL, etc.
Ideas and suggestions
What would make Justice Together work in your area?
What else do you think we need?
Do you know of others doing this on a local level who would be happy to get involved?
Can you share this with any friends or colleagues who may want to go on the database?
Can you recommend a local or national organisation that provides support to families?
We don’t want to replicate any good work happening in local areas, we just want to ensure that parents know about and can access that help before it is too late.
Expressions of Interest and Suggestions:
In February, we are asking for feedback and expressions of interest. If you would like to be involved with Justice Together or if you have a suggestion, please complete this form at the end of the linked page by 28 February 2015.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Justice for Thomas

Yesterday (4/2/15), Thomas Rawnsley’s family had to make the agonising decision to consent to his life support machine being switched off. 
It’s difficult to imagine what any parent would feel at this time but imagine too their preceding two years of Kafka-esque hell……..Mum Paula and her wider family have had to contend with watching powerlessly as their precious Thomas was shunted like a piece of meat between different care (care??) placements.  None of the placements could meet his needs and during his stay in one of them, he suffered abuse by staff.  One member of staff received a suspended sentence in February 2014 for this abuse.
Thomas entered state care in an ATU in October 2013 as a result of a section that came about because the staff at the bungalow in his supported living facility claimed that his ‘mistrust’ of them was a threat to them. 
When the section was lifted, he was detained under an order from the Court of Protection (Protection??.......really?  Protecting who?  Not Thomas……) The family had no access to legal aid and no way of meeting the costs of legal representation to challenge the CoP order.  Paula was (and still is) gagged by the CoP from reporting any details relating to his care.
When I read between the lines, my translation of what the staff in the ATU meant  when they described Thomas' 'mistrust' of them as a threat is: ‘he has autism, Downs and learning difficulties……..he’s sooo difficult!  We can’t get him to do what we want and his ‘challenging behaviour’ is too much for us!!’
Ok so anyone who really takes the time to understand people with complex needs knows that ‘challenging behaviour’ is usually a result of the environment they are in – sensory environment, physical environment and interpersonal environment.  That last one is the lynchpin in my view.  Trusting relationships are so powerful and so fundamental to our human existence yet this aspect of the environment is usually the one that is ignored.  Ignored because of ignorance, indifference or convenience? 
Instead of care built around trusting relationships we get the use of behaviourist principles, physical restraint and the chemical cosh.  There’s only one one-way relationship there and it’s about the staff being in control. It’s all about compliance and conformity.
There is so much indifference around meeting complex needs amongst many of those working in the industry.  And my god, it is an industry: it sure makes fat cats out of all those care home directors and provides a reliable cash cow for charity providers…..and all this feathering of the corporate and charitable nest is at the expense of you and me the taxpayer.
There are some good care homes and facilities of course, but we have too much evidence now that this is the exception rather than the rule……certainly for the larger institutions.  Connor Sparrowhawk, Winterbourne View, Nico Reed.  Eden Evans, Jack Beres, Tianze Ni.  Josh Wills, Chris McCarrick, Stephen Martinez.  Steven Neary, Claire Dyer.
Trying to ‘get’ people with complex needs to do something is the opposite of what needs to happen.  A ‘getting’ communication style and way of interacting is going to lead to explosions and dysregulation because of the difficulty people with complex needs have with demands being placed on them.  Conversely, if there is an invitational communication and interaction style embedded within a trusting relationship and a support plan built around the person’s preferences, you have the person’s own intrinsic motivation that fuels engagement……and the ‘challenging behaviour’ is minimised.
Are workers in care homes and ATUs given training and support to help them understand and implement this kind of approach?  Are they paid at a rate that recognizes and develops these competencies?  You know the answer.
The average cost of a placement in an ATU is £3,500 per person per week.  Yes, you read that correctly. Yet the top brass big cheese (rich) directors in their board rooms and executive offices on their executive salaries can’t manage to pay the care and support staff a wage that is reflective of the competencies needed to provide quality care and support to people who need such placements.
So people who are in crisis go into a placement where the sensory, physical and interpersonal environments make ‘challenging behaviour’ a fait accompli.  And where are the commissioners, the CQC, the Winterbourne View JIPs and Concordats, the National Audit Office reports, the charities that claim to represent people with complex needs in all this? The bodies that are supposed to be safeguarding, scrutinizing and regulating are part of the problem.....they bluff and bluster and wring their hands and nothing changes.  And as for the Court of Protection….ignoring the views of families who know their dudes best and slapping gagging orders on anyone who dares to tell the truth about what is happening to their kinfolk.
Over the coming days and weeks we will find out more about the uncertainties surrounding the events that led up to Thomas’ death.  For now we need to put our energy into making sure Paula and her family get as much support as possible – emotional, financial, legal, campaigning…..whatever they need.
It may be that an inquest is needed.  Legal aid isn’t available for families to access legal representation at inquests.  But of course the local authority responsible for Thomas’ care have access to their own funds (courtesy of yours and my taxes) to employ the best solicitors and barristers.  Where’s the justice in that?
A fund has been set up to help Paula and her family.  Please donate and share the link to the fund (http://www.gofundme.com/laewnk) as much as possible – legal representation for an inquest will cost about £20K.
We need to make sure the family gets Justice for Thomas. 

Justice for all the dudes.