The Care Quality Commission have published their ‘Out of sight – who cares?’ review into the use of seclusion and restraint in the care of autistic people and people with a learning disability and/or mental health condition in hospitals.

It details the tragic reality of life in these institutions, from the noisy chaotic ward environments to the use of prison-style seclusion and unnecessary and damaging restraint.

Lots of individuals and organisations have been involved in making the case for change over many years, and particularly since Bethany’s story came to light. Because her PDA wasn’t understood and her needs weren’t met she ended up spending 2 years in a cell. Her more recent experiences have shown just what is possible, and are described in a recent webinar by NDTi for Commissioners

Dr Judy Eaton sits on the oversight board established by the Children’s Commissioner to look into the work being done to improve things. She told us:

“The particular area I have aimed to raise awareness of is the need for timely and accurate assessment of a young person once they are admitted into hospital.  In the past this has not always happened and has led to young people being misunderstood and provided with inappropriate treatment or support. I have also been talking to people involved in improving care for ‘the most vulnerable children with complex needs’ in the community.”

It is heartening to hear that…

“There are many people working hard behind the scenes on all of these projects, including parents and individuals who have been admitted to inpatient units, who are all passionately committed to improving services and providing young people and their families with the support they so badly need.”

However, the Government continue to fail in their duty; it is clear from the review that we need structural change to get this done properly: 

  • local authorities enabling people to set up better community provision,
  • autistic and LD advocates fully involved and leading the way,
  • care-workers paid enough and trained enough so ensure all are able to care well,
  • and financial systems that allow the NHS and social care to work together on equal footing.

Read more about PDA and ATU’s/mental health institutions.