Back in May, a Panorama documentary on the shocking treatment of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View caused shock and outrage, not only within the social care sector, but across the nation as a whole.
Swift, if belated, action was taken to bring an end to these appalling acts of abuse, with the immediate and permanent closure of the institution, and the rehousing of those living at Winterbourne.
Five months on however, questions still remain over how conditions in that institution were allowed to become so dreadful, and how we can ensure that such a situation never happens again. ‘There is an Alternative’ a report published by the Association for Supported Living (ASL), last week, is an attempt to provide some answers. More importantly, it identifies a constructive way forward.
Through 10 stories of people who have moved on from a hospital setting to supported living, the report demonstrates why community-based support is a better alternative to the institutional model of care.
The report highlights the effectiveness of supported living over institutional care in dramatically improving quality of life and responding to challenging behaviour, but also demonstrates the savings that it can represent to the public purse, providing better value and safer support for people with learning disabilities. Given these findings, the report concludes by calling upon the Government to take urgent action to bring an end to institutional care.
No-one who saw the Panorama documentary could fail to be shocked and angered by the sheer of lack of compassion that they witnessed.
The report from ASL provides us with a way forward that could provide a better life for the 1,900 people with learning disabilities who are still living in an institutional setting. It is the duty of all us to ensure that this happens, and that scandals like Winterbourne View become a thing of the past. Find out more information about the learning disabilities support services that are available to people with learning disabilities.