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June 2011



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Article Date: 02 Jun 2011 – 3:00 PDT

Commenting on the Panorama investigation into abuse at a unit for people with learning disbailities (Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed, shown on BBC1 on 31 May 2011), Dr Ian Hall, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of the Psychiatry of Learning Disablity, said:

“The practices shown in the Panorama documentary are appalling, and must never be used when supporting people with learning disability. People with learning disability should always be treated with dignity and respect. If they talk about being treated badly, then this must always be taken seriously, by everyone, including hospital managers and regulators.

“People with learning disability do sometimes behave in a way that challenges services and carers. Treating people with dignity and respect goes a long way to preventing such behaviour. Where such behaviour does occur, there are established good practice therapeutic guidelines for managing it. There is absolutely no place for punishment, or inhuman or degrading treatment in the management of such behaviour.”

In June 2007, the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a College Report detailing good practice guidelines for supporting people with learning disabilities who are at risk of receiving abusive or restrictive practices: CR144 – Challenging Behaviour: A Unified Approach.

Royal College of Psychiatrists



NAS: More Regular Independent Inspections Of Care Services Needed

In response to BBC One’s Panorama investigation into the abuse of vulnerable adults in care, broadcast at 9pm on Tuesday 31 May, The National Autistic Society (NAS) is calling on the Government to recognise the failings in the current system of inspection. Please sign our petition to call on the Government to take urgent action to address the failings in the current system of inspection.

The Government must ensure that inspecting bodies are properly resourced to ensure care providers are held to account for the services they provide to vulnerable adults. The NAS is concerned that under the current ‘light-touch’ inspection system, which has seen a reported 70% drop in inspections over the past year,  early identification of care quality issues is not guaranteed.

Carol Povey, Director of the NAS Centre for Autism, says:

I and my colleagues at the NAS found last night’s programme shocking and deeply upsetting. It is completely unacceptable that any form of abuse by care support staff takes place in any care service. Careful recruitment, regular inspections and detailed staff training plans are essential but organisations also need to ensure they have a culture where abuse is never tolerated, and this needs to come from the top.

She continues:

We all have a duty of care to protect vulnerable adults from harm and to ensure they have the opportunity to live life to the full with dignity and respect. This programme demonstrates that the current system is failing some of our most vulnerable people but we have concerns that it has taken yet another undercover investigation to bring this particular instance of abuse to the attention of the authorities. We believe that full accountability of services is required to end abuse of this kind now and in the future.

The NAS is calling for immediate safeguarding procedures to be implemented throughout adult care services under a robust and rigorous inspection system.

  • *All organisations have to create working cultures where abuse is unacceptable and clear polices and procedures are in place to report abuse and wrongdoing.
  • *It is vital that individuals working in adult social care have the right attitude to work with vulnerable adults and that they are trained in safeguarding and managing challenging behaviour.
  • *Robust and rigorous recruitment procedures are essential.
  • *Specific on-the-job training should be regularly assessed and refreshed.
  • *Staff must have relevant and specific knowledge of the disabilities they are dealing with to help support individuals appropriately.

We have produced a Q&A for families who are concerned about the issues raised in the Panorama programme and want to know more about how people in adult services should be well-supported and kept safe.



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