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Abuse at Winterburn View, Castlebeck (Panorama) It Needs MORE Than Arrests

Anyone who knows me is going to know what I am going to say about this hospital.   The abuse at Winterburn View, the Castlebeck Private Hospital has shaken me considerably.  These abused people are CHILDREN.  They are in big bodies, but they are CHILDREN.    Picture your two, or three, or four year old being treated like that.

I came home from a fabulous show last night, watching the Shaolin Warriors in Aberdeen (blog post later in the week), and saw some tweets in my inbox about a Panorama Programme that had made people cry.  I also got the impression that it involved special needs and vulnerable adults with learning difficulties and autism.  Watch the programme on Iplayer HERE

I quickly booted up BBC Iplayer at 1am and began watching.  It was riveting viewing, and once I had switched it on, I couldn’t switch it off again.   It was very much more than I had expected when I began to watch.   The extent of the abuse shown on the documentary had me speechless.    I thought they might be talking about a few punches, a couple of isolated asssaults, and that would have been bad enough – but the extent of it, I have no words to express.  The lad who carried the cameras has stamina and strength to be able to keep going back and into that environment.  Thank goodness for his perseverance to help those vulnerable people, who are hopefully all now safe.

How those abused people felt, I cannot even begin to imagine.    The final scenes with Simone were so bad that it makes me despair.    Our children tend not to tell the truth, or not know the difference between truth and fantasy,  so I can fully understand her parents dilemma when she told them she was being attacked, and they didn’t believe her.  Special needs children suffer from the boy who cried wolf too often.  How her parents feel now, knowing that on this occasion she was telling them what was actually happening to her, rather than imagining something from watching a film or playing a video nasty I have no idea.  I do know that they will never forgive themselves for it.

The Care Quality Commission (CTC) quite frankly seemed toothless.   They came across as paying lip service to form filling and happy with well behaved staff once the door was unlocked to the locked wards.   There was no evidence of activity schedules, or plans for moving back to the general public (from the documentary) – yet, they thought that was nothing to be concerned about.  That should have raised a country sized red flag.  And as for not taking notice of the complaints made by a respected member of staff in the field, Terry Bryan – it shows how little anyone really cared.

One programme later, and it all comes out of the woodwork.  Castlebeck should be taken to account for this.  It is NOT enough to say they are “sorry,” or they are “ashamed”.    If they cared, they would have investigated before they were publically held to account by Panorama.

It is NOT the sole blame of the carers behaving badly here – it is the management of the home who allowed the environment to move in that direction.    And while I am at it, where were the social workers under whose charge the patients should have been assisted?  Why aren’t social workers head rolling on this as well?  Why was the ward locked with no family allowed in or out?   That speaks volumes.   The doctors who must have been aware of unrealistic levels of accidents, bruises, injuries and trauma, but turned a blind eye.

Bored special needs people will strop, they will have tantrums, and they will use language without thinking of the consequences at the time.   Punishment does not lead to better behaviour, or make them think before they act in the future.

I am horrified that Castlebeck have so many other establishments out there.  I just hope there are responsible staff in those.

I am not niave enough to think that Winterburn View is the only place in the UK where vulnerable people are being abused, but I do expect the watchdogs to be on top of them, and keep it to a minimum.    Some of the abuse they suffered on camera had the potential to kill.  It was systematic, targetted, and daily.  How could they miss that?

As a parent of a special needs child who will grow up into a special needs adult, and who might at some stage in his life, need adult care outwith the home for extended periods of time – I am sick to the stomach.

Yes, those of you who are parents of neuro typicals are going to see that it’s shocking, distressing, and that it shouldn’t happen, but social care is never actually going to be something that you have to consider, or be subject to  for your children.

We are knocking on the door of respite for the first time ever, and as a family we need it to start to cope with him long term at home.

The thought that my most vulnerable child could suffer at the hands of bullies like that is already making me think twice about where he goes.  He is growing up and needs to see more of the world outside his home cocoon, so I work though it.

As a grown up, I have to be realistic, and try to see the good in people.  Sadly, through circumstances, potential and his educational experience, all I see is the potential for harm.   When any male teacher, or charity worker deals with us, I don’t think “nice man”.   I look, smile, ask questions, engage them in conversation, and through gritted teeth, accept that I must trust him.   I do look, and I try VERY HARD to find something that makes me uneasy about him (or her).   When he leaves with a carer, my heart beats fast, and I panic fleetingly in case I have just handed my child over to a psychopath.

I also know, that if the day comes that my son accuses one of his carers of hitting him, I am not going to know if it is the truth, or if he is imagining a film he saw ten years earlier, or if it was a dream that has upset him.    The only thing I would be able to do is remove him from the carer, as leaving a situation like that until proof was found could be too late.    What about when we are no longer able to look after his interests.  Then, he is at the mercy of strangers, social workers, doctors, management and staff.

  • Our world saddens me.
  • My lack of trust in strangers, neighbours and friends saddens me.
  • I don’t know how to live with that fear.
  • We must live with that fear and we must trust strangers, neighbours and friends if we are to have fulfilling lives.
  • We must live with the consequences.
  • We must make it better for those who are still in places like Winterburn View.
  • We must reach out and help those who cannot help themselves.
  • We must NOT turn a blind eye.

I am not relieved that these patients have been moved to “safety”.  I am sick to my stomach about it.  Physically.

Their lives will now never be healed.  They will mostly lack the ability to reason that the danger has now passed.  The rest of their lives will be spent in fear.

Will they be moved to a place that is any safer?

How many other “Winterburns” are there out there?

And before  I end this – what do I think of the reporter that did not intervene during that last horrific day of abuse in fear of blowing his cover?  I love him for outing it, but also can’t understand why he didn’t immediately go to the police.  What about the BBC who allowed it to keep going until the programme aired – they also fostered allowing it to happen for those days.

I would like to think the last footage was filmed on Sunday, someone please tell me that was what happened.

I have just heard that filming was Feb / March.   That also saddens me.   That was another 2 whole months after this footage was taken – BEFORE they were rescued.

Bloggers With Excellent Posts
Benefit Scrounging Scum – Imagine You Were Four #panorama

The Small Places – Last Nights Panarama – Anatomy of a Scandal

A Boy With Aspergers – Behind Closed Doors

31 thoughts on “Abuse at Winterburn View, Castlebeck (Panorama) It Needs MORE Than Arrests

  1. I think that a locked ward like this is exactly like a foriegn war zone: and clearly “the truth is the first casualty of war”. We have seen time and time again how professionals and management will collude together to cover-up wrongdoing. If a qualified nurse couldnt get a hearing, how could a reported armed with nothing more than a tiny covert-video camera? And I think there will still be serious difficulties obtaining anything more than tokenistic prosecutions from this evidence. Time and time again, defendants have escaped prosecution or significant punishment because a good defence lawyer can get such evidence dismissed as “entrapment” or inadmissable for some other reason, such as it denies the defendants their human rights, etc etc…

    1. Sadly, I can see where you are coming from. I have to wonder how many other homes there are which are inflicting this kind of damage on the people they are meant to be caring for.

      1. Many years ago, there was an experiment in the USA which involved students with no mental health problems at all being admitted to acute psych admission wards – they were instructed to behave entirely normally and write down everything that happened in a notebook, but the staff were not informed of their “mystery shopper” status. Some were spotted as fakes very quickly, but at least one was still there a week later. The case notes indicated “compulsive writing behaviour” LOL!

  2. Journalists often witness scenes of indescribable horror, wars, famines, disasters. Their job is to witness and observe, and if they are undercover, to collect as amuch evidence as possible. Given that a senior nurse had already tried three times to report this house of horror without success, it was clearly important to get as much evidence as was necessary to ensure that we could all get the full picture, and that the usual counter-complaint of selective reporting could not be applied. The BBC acted entirely properly, in my view. They did not cause the abuse, there had already been very significant failures by the regulator, and this investigation was set up very carefully and at significant cost. It would have been irresponsible in the extreme to have abandoned it.

    1. Realistically, something could have been done about it sooner. We are not talking about a foreign war zone. Just because someone does not cause abuse, it doesn’t mean that they have the right to withhold the evidence when it has been filmed over a sustained period. The footage would have been taken seriously by the police, I am sure, or the programme could have been aired sooner.

  3. Just letting you know I’ve provided a link in my post over at A boy with aspergers regarding this post.x

  4. Problem seems to be the ethos of ‘business’ running health care people are not commodities to make money on.

  5. hi my names michelle iam a carer for vunrable adults with learning ,physical disabilities i have trained for 5 years have nvq 2,3 health and social care i was disgusted with the not care ,abuse those vunrable adults got ,it was terrible to see the abuse they got ,brought tears to my eyes .i thank the reporter as u need hard proof to bring people like that to court.he went under cover to bring us the proof ,he was upset about whatch it all happen but they need proof evidence to take it to police ect .well done terry for whistleblowing that a policy in place for carer to report abuse, i just want to say that please not all carers are like that some of us work hard to give are cleints a happy ,fullfilling ,enjoyablie life every day trips,cinema ,hight standard of care ,i treat my client i lok after with dignity respest, always they are people ,with feelings ,wishes ,and i use diffrent forms of comunication too to to understand my client needs and wishes,as not all can comunictae verbally ,hope those cleint are all rehouse some where nice where carers respect them treat them as human beings,they can try put the nightmare behind them ,hope those people get locked up for long long time ..please people still some of us that work hard ,my thought are with them all .just hope more poeple have the strength to come forward if they see this happening any where no one should ever have to live with like that ,or live in fear .no matter who they are .

  6. Im not sure what we can do with regard this particular incident except to support any campaigns and sign petitions that may emerge from it or even create our own parental/carers campaign group. In the long term, I think as a parental group we need to be able to have a voice about ‘care’ and not be shrugged off as people who passively buy or use services. We need to be able to tell our leaders what we want for our relatives and not havve something imposed on us from people who have little personal experience of caring for elderly or disabled people etc. With this in mind, I think the Parental Participation ideas from Contact a Family is also worth exploring and considering getting involved in.

  7. not all care homes are like this, most provide warm loving environments. However having worked in care for over ten years the situation is in melt down and small care homes are going to the wall because of lack of funds in the care home i work in we get very little money each week per resident for dementia care and so the sums qoted here as £ 3000 a week made my eyes water and yet where were the activities?????/ we do activities every day and can’t just stand around. The residents are happy and contented and families can visit whenever.
    Now we have huge institutions in plush surroundings to take ditract from abuse when all residents want is clean homely surroundings with kind care staff. RELATIVES BEWARE

  8. As parents, what can we do??

  9. After exhausting the outrage at the abuse we need to be serious about what needs to be done.

    -BBC needs to explain itself re 2 month delay.
    -Careworkers need to be prosecuted.
    -Managers and executives should be prosecuted.
    -Politicians and ministers need to be taken to account for their failure to ensure that public services are delivered in the best interests of service users.

    In my humble opinion unless our government changes its attitude to the delivery of public services appalling practices like this will continue.

    1. I agree with everything you say. Nobody seems to be speaking about anything more than the 4 workers who were arrested. Most people will forget by this time next week as they move on after their outrage at places like these. The BBC felt so badly about it that they waited 2 months to report it.

  10. Obviously, I agree with everything you say here. I was almost physically sick tonight when I watched the news and had to turn away, still hearing the recorded screams for help. I AM DISGUSTED AT THE BBC, THE REPORTER AND THOSE WHO ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN for not intervening. Whilst watching the news report, I was thinking “who’s filming this? They are as sick as the ones causing the abuse.” And I think that they are. Could you have watched this happen, film it then send the recording to the news, for it only to be reported 2 months later? Could you have slept at night knowing that had happened and you hadn’t done anything to help those vulnerable people apart from film their agony? No, neither could I. Whilst they’re making arrests at that home, they should have a few words with the journalist too.

    CJ xx

    1. I didn’t put it as strongly as you, and I haven’t seen anyone else even mentioning it. Why are those two months just shrugged aside? The guardian has said that they were only arrested after the broadcast. And the cuts to services and funds just keep on coming through so its actually just going to get worse.

    2. I can totally see where you are coming from with this but what that man done saved alot of people from further abuse if he hadnt done what he had done this place would still be open and torturing people ask we speak

      As for the 2 month delay .. i presume everything had to be taken through courts ?

      Not defending anyone here at all just think the system we have in place now adays is the cause for all of this.

      1. The police didn’t even start to investigate until after the programme was shown on TV. That is what is so sad in this.

  11. As a special needs mum, you have in a way spoken for me, as I’m sure a lot of other parents. I am unsure as to how much support my son will need in the future but it is likely he will need some to help him live an independent life. After my traumatic experience with the education system I am finding myself with less and less trust in peoples ability to understand my childrens needs (ASD) & to support them properly. I now feel such a pressure to live a very long life in which to support them myself because frankly I dont see anybody else up to the job.

    1. That is the hugely worrying thing. How on earth do we outlive our children to keep them out of places like that. And it soo gives a bad name to the places that ARE good with special needs children.

  12. Seriously, are you saying that the BBC filmed this in Feb and nothing was done til the end of May? Werent they arrested in March or whenever? Were they only arrested last night??? If that is the case, the BBC need to be brought to book over it. If you discover that this is indeed what happened, let me know. I have to confess I am very bad at watching anything with bullying or violence so I havent seen it, but have read about it. It is horrifying.

    1. It certainly looks like that, although the figures may be twisted somewhat. I am hoping and willing someone will tell us that they didn’t suffer for 2 more months until the programme was aired.

  13. I’ve just watched the Panorama programme and I feel really affected by it. I cannot understand how this was overlooked. It’s as if the careworkers themselves felt like this was the only way they could manage the ‘violence’ and ‘disturbing behaviour’ of the patients. And yet, I didn’t see any of the patients behaving violently. Not once did I see a patient behave in such a way that he/she needed to be restrained. I can’t understand the behaviour, but unfortunately I believe it is widespread in ‘care’ homes of all types right across the globe.

    1. Thats the worst bit of it I think. I didn’t see any bad behaviour from the residents at all.

  14. I also had concerns about how this was apparently allowed to continue even when so many people were aware of the situation. And shock that this appeared to be an acceptable culture to so many people working at the home it wasn’t just one or two. It makes me despair of humanity to see this level of abuse. Only thing I would say is that in the past I have been into small homes for people with learning disabilities in a nursing capacity for other health problems and have been humbled by the love and care I have witnessed to residents from care staff.

    1. How can a place like that deteriorate to that extent is beyond me. The fact that soo many people knew, and it was ignored until they had to face it on public TV speaks volumes. I hope that my childrens only experiences are in the homes with great care staff. Sadly, this makes us also distrust the people who are caring.

  15. I actually couldn’t watch all of this programme. On Monday irish tv showed a very upsetting programme on the desperate plight of many carers in this country following the cutbacks and then for this programme to be on last night was too much. Thankfully I’m hoping that my son with aspergers will be able to lead an independent life but not my dd with severe cerebral palsy. Basically I feel I have to outlive her. She is the happiest smiliest girl you could ever hope to meet, but what would happen to that wonderful smile if she ended up in a place like the one shown on panorama last night?

    1. This came fast on the heels of me reading a blog about a 5 year old girl and her age compadres (she is now grown up) and to see this as well, it was just too much. The tears were flowing. It’s a real threat hanging over parents of children who need care, and the good carers as well.

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