Posted on 31 Comments

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