I felt compelled to write something in a response to the recent news items on the cases of criminal neglect of people with disabilities while in the care of a private hospital. This is the most horrific catalogue of abuse and neglect that I have ever heard of. The program was horrendous to watch and as a care home owner I was sickened to the core. The jail terms were welcome but quite honestly not long enough for the severity of the crimes in my opinion. The rights of people with disabilities have still got a long way to go in even just safeguarding the basic human rights and preserving the individual’s needs and wants.
While we do not run a medical facility (i.e. a hospital), our service is residential care for adults with acquired brain injuries (ABI) and/or learning difficulties. We create a home and all that comes with that. My mother and father started The Richardson Partnership for Care in 1989 when identifying that there was a serious lack in professional care and attention for people who had sustained an ABI or indeed had a learning disability. In fact I grew up with some of the Service Users who are still residing in our homes today. But, the question that I asked myself late into the night after watching that BBC programme was: “How do I know that this is not happening in my homes?” And, actually, the answers came quite quickly and simply:
- Our homes have been developed, maintained and staffed – purely with the needs of the Service Users in mind
- Complaints (if received) are taken seriously and investigated fully (by my senior staff, my husband and myself)
- We employ staff with a minimum of 12 months experience (so that we are sure that they have understood the environment before starting to work with us – we then have an intensive training programme we put our staff through that not many other care homes do)
- We train our staff to become accredited through the Crisis Prevention Institute (non-violent crisis intervention )
- Our staff all have training every 3 weeks so that we keep their skills and learning on top form and ensure that the learning is directly implemented into their roles
- Our staff are regularly supervised and we have performance management appraisals built into our people management structure
- We have high staff ratios versus Service Users (there is always enough staff to support each other and the Service Users – even for the toughest of days)
- My husband and I (as the managing partners) live in walking distance of the homes and often bump into people (Service Users and staff) when we are going about our daily life
- We have monthly internal audits of the homes
- All of our five homes have had a fully compliant Care and Quality Commission inspection report within the last year (all “surprise” visits and we have received satisfaction ratings and wonderful feedback from the inspectors themselves)
This leads me to want to defend my profession and say that if done responsibly Residential Care can be a positive life choice for people who have a need for it. Social isolation is regularly an issue for people with disabilities and the support system, encouragement, fun and laughter that I witness within a group environment is one reason that I love my job.
Service Users that lack self-esteem and enthusiasm regularly thrive when involved in meaningful community activities. We are having great success in giving people the skills and confidence to go out into the community and live independently much more quickly than could have been imagined. Also our Service Users have valuable personal space in their own rooms or transitional suites to make sure that they can pick and choose when they feel like interacting.
Hopefully I have managed to share the fact that Winterbourne View is terrible example of what really can’t be described as “care” – and to let you know that there are providers, like ourselves, who are seriously committed to person-centred care, where the individual is respected as any person would and should be. The prevailing passion that started when we opened our first home 23 years ago in which we lived and my parents worked at the time (I was 10 years old) is to run a positive place that people enjoy calling their home and are supported by a professional, compassionate team of staff and a group of peers to fulfil their potential. I am committed to listen to complaints and feedback both positive and negative to ensure that my homes are not destructive places to live.
If you would like to chat to me at any point, or ask me any questions about The Richardson Partnership for Care – then please contact me on 01604 791266 or connect with me on LinkedIn.