Report on the detention of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism

On 1st November 2019, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) published a report on the detention of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism. The report condemns the “horrific reality” of conditions and treatment under which many young people with learning disabilities and autism are detained in mental health hospitals, “inflicting terrible suffering on those detained and causing anguish to their distraught families”. The full report can be downloaded here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201920/jtselect/jtrights/121/121.pdf

The British Institute of Human Rights have published an ‘explainer’ of the report which is available here: https://www.bihr.org.uk/explainer-jhrc-report 

We are grateful to Sheffield Citizens Advice for forwarding this information to the Sheffield Autistic Society. We feel this is so important that we are reprinting the official summary of the report below:

Summary
“We regard ourselves as a civilised society with a respect for human rights. Most people would say we should take extra care to support young people and those who are disabled. But the brutal truth is that we are failing to protect some of the most vulnerable young people – those with learning disabilities and/or autism. And indeed, we are inflicting terrible suffering on those detained in mental health hospitals and causing anguish to their distraught families. The recent BBC Panorama programme showing taunting and abuse of patients at Whorlton Hall exposed the horrific reality for some.

Too often the pathway to detention is predictable. It begins from before diagnosis. A family grows worried about their child. They raise concerns with the GP, and with the nursery or school. It takes ages before they get an assessment and yet more time passes before they get a diagnosis of autism. All that time they struggle on their own with their worries and without help for their child. This pattern continues throughout childhood as families are under-supported and what little help they have falls away when the child reaches the age of 18.

Then something happens, perhaps something relatively minor such as a house move or a parent falls temporarily ill. This unsettles the young person and the family struggles to cope. Professionals meet to discuss what should happen, but parents are not asked for their views. Then the child is taken away from their home and the familiarity and routine which is so essential to them. They’re taken miles away and placed with strangers. The parents are desperately concerned. Their concerns are treated as hostile and they are treated as a problem. The young person gets worse and endures physical restraint and solitary confinement – which the institution calls “seclusion”.

And the child gets even worse so plans to return home are shelved. The days turn into weeks, then months and in some cases even years.
This is such a grim picture, yet it has been stark in evidence to our inquiry into the detention of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism. We have lost confidence that the system is doing what it says it is doing and the regulator’s method of checking is not working. It has been left to the media, notably the BBC, Sky News and Ian Birrell in the Mail on Sunday, to expose abuse. No-one thinks this is acceptable.
There has been a succession of compelling reports including that from the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield OBE.

Our proposals for change are urgent and they are not complicated. They include:
• The establishment of a Number 10 unit, with cabinet level leadership, to urgently drive forward reform to minimise the number of those with learning disabilities and/or autism who are detained and to safeguard their human rights.
• A review to be carried out by the Number 10 unit of the framework for provision of services for those with learning disabilities and/or autism. At a minimum Government should introduce:
– a legal duty on Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure the availability of sufficient community-based services.
– a legal duty on Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups to pool budgets for care services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
• Stronger legal entitlements to support for individuals. The Government must act on legislative proposals put forward by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, as well as those made by the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983 and campaign groups.
• Care and Treatment Reviews and Care, Education and Treatment Reviews to be put on a statutory footing.
• The criteria for detention under the Mental Health Act must be narrowed to avoid inappropriate detention. Those with learning disabilities and/or autism must only be detained in situations where:
– treatment is necessary;
– treatment is not available in the community and only available in detention (i.e. the last and only resort);
– treatment is of benefit to the individual and does not worsen their condition; and
– without the treatment, there is a significant risk of harm to the individual or others.
• Families of those with learning disabilities and/or autism must be recognised as human rights defenders, and other than in exceptional circumstances, be fully involved in all relevant discussions and decisions. This should include:
– On every occasion that anyone is restrained or kept in conditions amounting to solitary confinement their families must be automatically
informed.
– Young people must not be placed long distances from home as it undermines their right to family life under Article 8 ECHR. Financial
support must be made available to ensure that families are able to visit their loved ones.
• Substantive reform of the Care Quality Commission’s approach and processes is essential. This should include unannounced inspections taking place at weekends and in the late evening, and the use, where appropriate, of covert surveillance methods to better inform inspection judgements.

Our country is prosperous and values human rights. We cannot turn away from the reality of the lives of these young people and their families. It’s time to act.”

 

ACCT Tots

Sheffield based organisation ACCT (Asperger’s Children and Carers Together) have sent us the following announcement:

ACCT Tots!
We are excited to have received some new funding for a pre-school group suitable for little ones up to 5 years old. The first session of ACCT Tots is taking place on Monday 7th October 10-12 noon in the Pavilion Room at St Mary’s and will running be every week at the same time. There will be lots of toys, activities and fun in a supportive and welcoming environment. New and familiar faces very welcome. Please pass this on to any families you know who might be interested.

For further details see this page.

 

 

Free Training for Personal Assistants and for Employers

Disability Sheffield are providing a programme of free training sessions for personal assistants and for employers of personal assistants during the remainder of 2019 and during January and February 2020.

The training is for:

– Anyone who receives a social care direct payment and employs their own Personal Assistants
– Anyone who is funding their own social care and employs their own Personal Assistants
– Anyone employed as a Personal Assistant for an adult over the age of 18, who is receiving social care support.

For full details see the PDF here:disability-sheffield-2019-20-training-programme-for-ie-and-pa

Supported Internships in the NHS for 16 to 24 year olds

An opportunity has arisen in Sheffield for young people (16-24 years) who have learning disabilities and / or autism  to apply for supported internships within the NHS.

We have received the following information from Clare Coyne, area manager for ‘Project Choice’:
“The programme runs for 1 school year (September to July) and is term time only.
You will be offered up to 3 placements throughout the year running, these are each 10-12 weeks long.
Each week you will spend 4 days in your work placement and 1 day in the classroom.
In the classroom you will learn about work and developing work skills and also study towards improving your maths and English.
You will be supported by a workplace mentor, project coordinator and a project manager.”

A YouTube video featuring students on a similar scheme in Hampshire is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9JIu1XozxQ

For more information about the Sheffield scheme please contact:

Clare Coyne
Project Choice Area Manager
Learning and Development
Rivermead Training Unit
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
Northern General Hospital
SheffieldS5 7AU

Tel 0114 2714985 or Mobile 07388 997 823

Email: clare.coyne@sth.nhs.uk

South Yorkshire Autism Fayre 16th and 17th September

Today (16th) and tomorrow (17th September) the South Yorkshire Autism Fayre is being held at the Magna Centre in Rotherham. EVERYONE is welcome to gain more knowledge about autism. Award winning guest speakers will be attending and there will be stalls selling products and giving information all about Autism and learning disabilities.

Sheffield Autistic Society will be there with a stall on Tuesday 17th. We hope to see you there.

For full details, see the event website: https://southyorkshireautismfayre.co.uk/

 

Adult Para Netball is coming to Sheffield!

Net4All is a new section of Sheffield Concord Netball Club that is for girls with Special Educational Needs and any player with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

The sessions, starting in October, will run monthly and cost £5 for the hour, coached by Helen (England Netball Level 3 Coach) alongside a team of coaches and volunteers from the club. Players are encouraged to bring a parent/carer along to the session for just £1 extra.

Net4All really is for ALL.  New players are very welcome.

For more information see this PDF document: Net4all – Training Dates – 2019

HOLD Scheme and My Safe Home

Sheffield Autistic Society received the following message from Susan Kirkman of Sheffield Autism Partnership Board:

Hello – Following on from our meeting with David Abbey of ‘My Safe Home’ at the meeting of the Autism Partnership Board on 31st July, I am trying to get an idea of the number of people who would be willing to explore the idea of a HOLD mortgage so we can encourage housing associations to work with us. Could you put the information below on the SAS website, anywhere else you think would raise interest and ask anyone you know whether it would be something they were interested in and get back to me with their details.

Thanks
Susan

My Safe Home say:”Having a complex and profound disability (excluding you from conventional employment) should never stand in the way of having your own home or living the kind of life you really want to lead. These simple beliefs lie at the heart of everything we do.

Making them happen might seem like an impossible dream but it isn’t. We really do know how to turn hopes into homes and we’ve already helped well over a thousand people buy a property that they can truly call home for the rest of their life…

Click here to read our Easy Read Guide

You will find more information about this scheme on our Housing page: https://sheffieldautisticsociety.org.uk/information/housing/#hold

If you are interested in following this up please send your details to Susan via our message form: https://sheffieldautisticsociety.org.uk/contact-us/#message

Spectrum Theatre Presentation Saturday 21st September: ‘All Change’

The Spectrum Theatre Group is a local Drama Company who members are a mixture of those on the autistic spectrum and those who are not.

They are putting on their latest play ‘ALL CHANGE’ on Saturday 21st September at 7.30 at the Merlin Theatre in Nether Edge.

This is a play that the group have written.

It’s October 2040. Olivia and Joe meet again after 35 years or so , at the venue for their virtual reality ‘experience’, a birthday present from their respective children. In this lively, often funny play, which also asks some serious questions, we see them reflect on their journeys through the jungles of childhood and the teenage years. If you’ve been a teenager, or brought one up, we think you’ll enjoy it!

Spectrum Theatre is an integrated theatre group, with half its members on the Autism spectrum. Since forming in 2016, we have gained a reputation for high quality, accessible theatre. For more, please visit our website: spectrumtheatresheffield.com

Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite

https://events.ticketsforgood.co.uk/events/1509-all-change

 

Sheffield Carers – Opportunity to Meet with Paul Blomfield MP 1st October

Please see the attached flyer – Paul Blomfield big conversation flyer – for details of how to book yourself a place to share your views with Sheffield Central Member of Parliament and Sheffield Carers Centre Ambassador, Paul Blomfield.

Tuesday 1 October  10:30 – 11:30
Sheffield Carers Centre, Concept House, Young Street S1 4UP

Paul will be available to discuss a range of topics that are of concern to you as carers.

Sheffield City Council Consultation on Safer Travel

Sheffield Autistic Society have received this message from Frazer Kirk of Sheffield City Council:

“Sheffield City Council has produced some guidance* that is designed to help people who are involved in making transport arrangements for children or adults at risk, or who have specific needs when travelling. It is aimed at professionals, parents, carers, young people and adults at risk, to help them make informed decisions about their travel arrangements so that the experience is a safe and comfortable one. The guidance describes what safeguarding arrangements the local authority has put in place for the transport it regulates and also suggests what passengers and their carers can do, to play their part in making the travel experience a positive one.

We have already consulted with young people about the guidance and we are keen to hear from parents, carers, adults at risk and professionals about their views about the guidance – including is it helpful? did we miss anything out?

*You will find the Draft Guidance and Annexes at the link below (the same webpage as the survey)

If you could spare 5 minutes to complete our consultation survey please click on the link below, (it’s only short, 6 simple questions!)” https://sheffield.citizenspace.com/place-business-strategy/safer-travel-guidance