For families worried about their relative’s care, see this webpage for information and where to go for support
Today the CQC released its report Promoting Sexual Safety Through Empowerment. The report makes a series of recommendations aiming to promote sexual safety and expression in adult social care services.
Whilst we welcome the CQC’s attention on improving sexual safety, we are especially concerned for individuals with severe learning disabilities who are often non- verbal and who are particularly vulnerable. For individuals with these support needs to be free from harm, all parts of the system, which exists to support them, must work well. What this means in practice is that there must be an awareness and management of risk (through skilled commissioning, service delivery and inspection) – and where sexual abuse occurs it must be identified, acknowledged, reported and investigated, and the individual and their family provided with skilled advocacy support, therapy and access to justice. In every one of these stages there are significant hurdles to overcome for individuals with learning disabilities. As one family CBF is supporting described:
I’m still so angry that my son’s word was never good enough. It seems people who are deemed to lack capacity are worthless and have so many hurdles to jump to have a voice, resulting in them having no voice at all. The devastating effects are ignored and they are left to cope with no help whatsoever. The impact on the ones that love them is truly heart-breaking.
Mother whose son was sexually abused in a care home
The recommendations in the report fall under 3 headings: development of best practice guidance; services encouraging the development of a supportive culture, and CQC improving its monitoring, risk assessment and inspections. These are welcomed but do not go far enough to address the hidden and systemic issues. It is another report in a long line of reports identifying systemic issues that need to be addressed. As the report points out “more need to be done to prevent sexual abuse happening” and the “impact and consequences can be life changing”
CQC has an opportunity now to champion sexual safety and should use its power and influence over other parts of the system to co-ordinate and drive the change required.
If you support someone with a severe learning disability whose behaviour challenges you can contact the CBF Family Support service on 0300 666 0126 or email us at: email@example.com.