Under Lock and Key - Our Response

2nd Mar 2017

Five years on from the Winterbourne View scandal, we are saddened that the sector is once again in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, following Channel 4’s excellent but distressing Despatches documentary ‘Under Lock and Key.’

The documentary focuses on children and young people with Learning Disability, Autism and Mental Health issues, and highlights the failings of large institutions, where people who can display challenging behaviour due to their distress, sensory issues or lack of understanding, are often detained under the Mental Health Act for indefinite periods of time. These institutions are badged as specialist hospitals, but often fail to offer any therapeutic value at all, and instead are based around containment and management – often through medication and the use of restrictive physical intervention and seclusion.

It feels appropriate at this time to offer reassurance to our many stakeholders that the distressing stories told in the documentary, are not an accurate depiction of the sector as a whole. Many providers, like the Heathcotes Group, are doing excellent work with individuals with these types of conditions and who have the capacity to display challenging behaviour, in small, community based settings, where their individual needs can be assessed, recognised and responded to by a small team of specially trained staff, who respect and understand them as individuals with needs, wants, aspirations and dreams, just like themselves. This is known as ‘person centred care’, and like many good providers, we pride ourselves on being able to deliver exactly that – care and support in small, homely settings, which places the individual at the centre of everything we do; our organisation was founded on that principle, and it remains at the very core of all our decisions and actions.

So, whilst we have deep empathy for the individuals and families affected by the issues highlighted in this latest expose of the worst examples of the sector – we would like to reassure our stakeholders and the wider public, that it is entirely possible to provide care and support to these vulnerable young people in a very different, and positive way; support that enriches and enhances their lives, and works with them to become fulfilled, achieve their goals and aspirations, and lead happy and meaningful lives.

The Heathcotes Group whole heartedly supports the Transforming Care programme and is working closely with Transforming Care partnerships, nationally. We pride ourselves on being able to support individuals in small, homely environments and are utilised as stepping stone to the future for these individuals.

We are always happy to welcome stakeholders, family members and commissioning authorities into any of our services at any time – and we will always be transparent, welcoming and open to suggestions about how we can do things differently or better, for the benefit of the amazing individuals we support on a daily basis.

For any enquiries about this or any other issue relating to the sector, our organisation or the work we do, please contact our Head Office on 01246 556453 and ask for me; I am happy to assist in any way I can.

Brendan Kelly – Managing Director – Heathcotes Northern.

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