“A Return To The Dark Ages”?

Glasgow City Council Social Work Services are currently tendering for a new 20 bed Care Home for people with learning disabilities.

In Scotland we like to think of ourselves as being more forward thinking than the rest of the UK.  But in November, shocked that more people were entering institutional care than leaving it in England, Norman Lamb MP, the UK Minster for Care admitted on the radio that the problem is that local authority provision for people living in independently was falling behind. And he promised action to deal with it.  The money was there, he insisted.


Glasgow City Council is seeking “a discrete unit dedicated to the care and accommodation of 20 adults with learning disabilities, staffed on a 24 hour basis, within the geographical boundary of Glasgow. It will comprise living spaces including dining areas, communal areas, and individual bedrooms. It will also have access to outside garden space for residents. The unit will have its own identity, and at very least a door separating the unit from other resources.

“The unit will be staffed 24 hours per day and able to meet the needs of up to 20 individuals over the age of 18 years with Learning Disabilities whose needs are to a level of complexity that cannot be met within a mainstream elderly care home environment.”

The service has to be fully up and running  by 7th January 2015.


We are concerned because


  • Large institutional settings disempower people with learning disabilities leaving them more vulnerable to abuse and neglect such as took place in Winterbourne.
  • The creation of such large services can allow staff sub cultures to develop that devalue people with learning disabilities.
  • Opening such a service in just weeks after the award of contract runs the risk of unexpected problems such as making sure each individual has a proper personalised care plan .
  • This service may end up replicating the problems in care home services already used by the City Council such as Collisdene Care Centre which has had a moratorium on placements for over a year because of poor performance.

Going Backwards

Developing a 20 bed care home is not an alternative way of looking after people with learning disabilities in the community.  It is a return to the old days of large segregated services that have the smell of Lennox Castle and other large hospital based services.

Throughout Scotland there has been a shift but in Glasgow there has been a real move away from care homes.  In fact, over the period the number of care homes in Glasgow has fallen by 20%.  Care homes have been closing, rather than opening.

Not only have care homes been closing, they have been getting smaller.  In 2013 there were 233 care homes in Scotland for 1,588 long term residents with learning disabilities making the average size of care home 7 places each – one third of the proposed new service.

Our Glasgow Stronger Together Group have talked about this development and written to members of Glasgow’s Independent Living Strategy asking for their help.

Ewan from the group put it well when he said , “ it is like going back to the Dark Ages of Lennox Castle.”  Although no Glasgow Council Committee has so far been asked  to approve this new policy, the Executive Committee will be likely to be asked to approve the award of any future tender.  Please get in  touch with your  councillor or MSP and ask them to stop this backward step. 

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