Dear Councillor Cunning
Last week following the publication of the Bubb report into plans to end institutional care following the Winterbourne scandal the UK government had to defend its failure to help people with learning disabilities leave institutional care and live in their local communities. In England more people with learning disabilities are entering hospital and other forms of institutional care than are leaving. In the year to September, 923 people were discharged but 1,306 were admitted. Norman Lamb PM, the Minster for Care admitted on the radio that the problem is that local authority provision for people living in independently was falling behind. But he insisted that money was not the problem, after all these places were funded by the NHS - surely the money could be used better in the community.
Scotland is not immune from this. Many people with learning disabilities are still in institutional care north of the border and many more travel south to hospital and services in England. But a new development worries us considerably. It was with surprise that we found that Glasgow City Council Social Work Services are planning to commission a new 20 bed Care Home for people with learning disabilities so that people leave their local communities and live in institutional care.
We have looked through papers presented to the City Council's Health and Social Care Policy Development Committee for this year and can find no mention of this development or any subsequent discussion. Neither can we locate any mention of it in the publicly available papers from the Personalisation Sub Committee. I am sure that we must have overlooked some mention of this as surely such an important development cannot be taking place without some form of democratic oversight.
Glasgow City Council tender documents (attached) call for
"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 compromise 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.
"Maximum funding of £640(gross) per placement per week is available within this contractual arrangement. Bidders will require to evidence that the service as described in the service specification will be fully operational 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 6 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.
The Mental Welfare Commission has investigated the experience of people with learning disabilities in care homes of this size or larger. They found that
. People lost their rights and were restricted more in movement and choice than they should be
. Staff often did not understand how they should make sure people consented to medical treatment
. People were often not taking part in their own reviews
. Local authorities often didn't turn up for reviews or keep an active interest in people
. Many of the homes were institutional in feel and look
. Some people had very limited day activities
. A significant number of people couldn't get out because of lack of transport
. There was little effort to help people develop friendships outside the unit.
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.
We would urge you to raise this matter within the democratic structures of Glasgow City Council and to find a way of putting this tender on hold before it is withdrawn completely.
Such a development is not what anyone expected as we moved into Self Directed Support. It is the wrong direction of travel.
All the best