Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Day 83 #107days



H&SA adopted Day 83 of the #107days campaign alongside our friends at BILD. Like most people, I watched with horror as we saw what was happening to Connor and his family. No-one could have predicted the tragedy of what eventually happened but I find myself repeatedly wondering what I could have done to prevent it.  The truth is that I don't know what I could have done. This is a difficult truth for me to acknowledge. In my work I have always believed there is a solution, a way to a better life that just requires listening, acting and perseverance, but recently I am not sure if this still holds true for me. The world of care is so riddled with rot that not even the strongest of families knew how to get what their son needed - something simple and straightforward.

Today, we decided to do something practical to help get people with learning disabilities out of ATUs and in some small way, make sure that Connor's legacy makes lives better for people who are experiencing what he experienced. The latest NHS England data says that there are 2358 patients living in ATUs that do not have a transfer date.  There are various reasons given for why most of those people do not have a transfer date. For 165 people it says that the reason they are still there is that there is not suitable housing provision locally.

Our commitment to #107days is to try and find out what the local issues are and offer help to get housing for each of those people. We will do this by:

  • Contacting each of the 14 commissioners who have responsibility for moving people on
  • Finding out what the local issues are
  • Offering support, information and contacts to help all of those people get housing.
  • We will publish the responses from commissioners and our response on our website http://bit.ly/1xBypWC 
  • We will follow up with (hassle) all commissioners until we feel satisfied they don't need help to get the right housing for the people who need it. 
In the last 3 years, I have spent countless hours in meetings advising on how to get people out of those places and stop people going in. I have spoken at conference after conference. Thousands of people being paid thousands of pounds to talk about what happened at Winterbourne View, to talk about what happened to Connor and to talk about the failures of countless other organisations in meeting the needs of people. And still no change. More people going in to ATUs than coming out.

But today was great. Contacting all those commissioners that can't get people back to their communities because of a lack of housing. Housing is what we are good at, something solid that we know how to make happen. Finding out about the 165 people needing housing across England and helping them. Contacting real people, mostly who want to do the right thing but don't know how, and having a named person to support (or hassle if they don't accept help) and make a difference.

It will take a little while. Some NHS areas can't even pick up their phones or publish the right contact details but we will persist. For Connor and all of those people who are victims of our rotten system.