Office for Children's Commissioner report exposes the poor and restrictive treatment of children with learning disabilities and autism

The Office for Children’s Commissioner have today published their report ‘Far less than they deserve: Children with learning disabilities or autism living in mental health hospitals’.

The report describes vulnerable children in need of support being kept in institutions when they do not need to be and being subjected to restrictive practices such as restraint and seclusion.

Whilst we welcome the publication of the report and its exposure of the poor and restrictive treatment of children with learning disabilities and autism,it is shocking that 8 years after the terrible abuse scandal at Winterbourne View the number of children with learning disabilities or autism in mental health inpatient settings remains exactly the same. We know that with the right support in the right place at the right time, children with complex needs can be supported to lead fulfilling lives in the community with their family and friends.

In 2015 the CBF published a report "Paving the way" setting out what good local support should look like for children with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge. Subsequent NHSE guidance for commissioners (NHSE Children’s Transforming Care guidance) drew on this work and recommended good community support including early intervention and local crisis support. Yet the evidence shows that little has changed in practice.

We support the report’s recommendation that Ministers should publish and deliver a cross Government plan to provide community support with a focus on children. This must include investment in the children’s workforce so staff are trained in understanding learning disability, autism and challenging behaviour and are able to offer individualised support, using a Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) approach to meet people’s needs.

The Government claim to have invested in good community support but the evidence from the NHSE commissioned evaluation of Transforming Care and reports by the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office demonstrate that any investment to date has failed to transform community provision, with many areas actually facing cuts to community support.

This report provides yet more evidence that the Government needs to act now to transform care for this group of children by strong leadership, investment in early intervention and skilled, local, high quality support to meet their needs, and to end this ongoing scandal.

Read the full report here:

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