Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Concentration Camp Care Homes

The British care homes, for the disabled and orphaned children, are riddled with perverts and sadists.

The churches are riddled with pederasts.

This country is sick.

It needs an emetic.

It needs the death sentence restored and the cleansing of society.

Four people arrested as police launch probe into abuse

Castlebeck chief executive says he is 'shocked, ashamed and disgusted' by the footage

Staff trying to goad patients into committing suicide, slap them and punch them
Patients given cold showers and pinned to the ground

Just a few feet in front of me, Simone cowered in the corner of the shower, her arms over her head to protect her from the care workers who had dragged her, fully clothed, beneath the jets of water.

At the time they took my silence for acquiescence, occasionally leering in my direction as they tossed shower gel at the 18-year-old, who has learning difficulties, and threw mouthwash into her eyes.

But there was a good reason why I didn’t intervene: what these thugs didn’t know was I had a secret camera hidden in the buttonhole of my shirt and was recording every second of their barbaric behaviour.

Vile: Care workers dragged vulnerable patients around like animals at the Winterbourne View private care home in Bristol

Having gone undercover as a care home assistant, I was torn between my instinct to protect the whimpering young woman in front of me and my desire, as an investigative journalist, to ensure I had enough evidence on film to bring her tormentors to justice.

But the moral dilemma I faced here was nothing compared to some of the horrors I witnessed during my five-week investigation.

Even as an experienced journalist working undercover for BBC’s Panorama, I was deeply disturbed by the things I saw at the state-of-the-art Winterbourne View private hospital in Bristol.

Seven months earlier, Panorama’s producers had been approached by a whistleblower who worked there, alleging terrible malpractice at the £3,500-a-week hospital for adults with learning disabilities and autism. It is the modern equivalent of Britain’s Victorian asylums.

Shocked by what I’d been told, I decided to apply for a job there to see first hand what was taking place.

Once I had secured a position, one of my first tasks was to complete a course on how to restrain difficult and disturbed patients.

I prepared myself psychologically for what I might see, but within two weeks of starting my £16,000-a-year job I’d witnessed chaos and abuse worse than anything I’d expected.

Cruel: Patients were trapped under chairs for up to ten minutes which the undercover reporter captured on camera

At Winterbourne View vulnerable young adults are meant to be cared for in a safe, understanding environment. Its publicity literature boasts of ‘caring and dedicated staff’.

The truth, I soon discovered, couldn’t have been more different. On the hospital’s top floor, there was even a locked corridor with bedrooms down either side and a security system at both ends, with no CCTV and no guests allowed — no one, in fact, who might witness the suffering of the patients.

Not long after arriving, I was taken aside by Wayne — the self-appointed leader of the gang of care workers.

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He was a tall, heavy-set man, his neck, shoulders and arms covered by a giant tattoo of a woman with a tear on her cheek.

He told me that the first task of the day was to get Lavinia, a vulnerable young woman in her 20s with a personality disorder and learning disabilities, out of bed.

I liked Lavinia. When she talked, her voice was slightly slurred. But she loved to laugh and listen to music. She enjoyed gardening and talking about blackbirds and flowers.
Sadly, she had a tendency to get quite aggressive — something that was rumoured to be related to a history of abuse.

Wayne wanted to ensure that Lavinia wore herself out and became more pliant. His plan was to get her out of bed in such a noisy, unpleasant way that she would turn into a screaming banshee.

By exhausting all her anger, he said, she’d be easily manageable for the rest of the day. Minutes later, we were standing on either side of her bed. ‘Wake up princess,’ he said, prodding her in the ribs. Then without a trace of irony: ‘You’ve got lots to look forward to.’

A prod turned to a push, then a shake. Within minutes we had the screaming, enraged young woman Wayne had wanted. She was dragged into the corridor, in her pyjamas. More jeering, more prodding and, before we knew it, Lavinia was so distressed that she had torn off her clothes and was lying naked in the corridor, beating her head on the floor and kicking the walls.

Tormentor: Care workers, like Wayne, subjected the vulnerable young people in their care to barbaric behaviour

Later that day, she tried to jump out of the window of the top floor. Luckily, she was stopped.

That’s when I found her on her knees behind the sofa, sobbing. Wayne was talking to her. ‘I like watching you lot try to jump,’ he was saying. ‘When you hit the floor do you think you would have made a thud or a splat?’

Looking back, I’m amazed at how easy it was to persuade the bullies that I was on their side, by saying nothing. Wayne thought I was a blank canvas, a potential disciple. He enjoyed explaining his methods of controlling patients, not realising how sick they sounded.

The violence in some of the care workers’ language was grotesque.

‘Do you want me to get out a cheese grater and grate your face off?’ I once heard Wayne say to Simone, the teenager he liked to torment. ‘Do you want me to turn you into a giant pepperoni? Shall I get a razor and cut you up?’

Wayne wasn’t alone. Another care worker, Graham, who had previously worked in the hospital kitchen, liked to use the language of a sexual masochist, calling patients ‘gimps’ — someone who is trussed up in a rubber outfit. I saw him twist the arm of one patient until she screeched.

Another time he forced Simone’s face into his crotch as he hissed something in her ear. It was agonising for me as I had to be aware of the safety of the patients even while I was filming their abuse. If I believed one of them was in such imminent danger that intervention was the only option, then the patient’s needs would come first — not the film.

It was Simone who seemed to bear the brunt of Wayne’s cruelty. She was exuberant and strong-willed, with a genetic disorder not dissimilar to Down’s syndrome.

Her favourite occupation was jumping on a trampoline, playing hula-hoop and cleaning. She’d clean the tables in the dining room and the cups in the tearoom.

But when she felt upset, she’d lie on the floor and refuse to move or try to tear up the carpet. This irritated the support workers, who took it upon themselves to ‘discipline’ her.

Vicious: Care workers trapped the young people with learning difficulties under chairs at the state-of-the-art home and stamped on their wrists if they complained

On one terrible day, which will haunt me for ever, I clocked into work at 8am, looked at the rota and realised, with a deep sense of foreboding, that three of the worst bullies were all on day-duty. Usually, there were only one or two of them on the top floor at once. I remember thinking: ‘Simone is going to get it.’

The first attack came at 9.20am.

I saw her lying in the corridor with Graham kneeling on her legs. She was screaming.
Nobody responded.

At about 2pm I found her hunched in the corner of the shower with all her clothes on. She was crying for her mother. ‘I warned you,’ a female care worker said, as she spurted shower gel into Simone’s face.

At 4.30pm, I heard Simone’s shrieks coming from the garden. It was March and the temperature was hovering at around freezing point. I went outside. She was sitting on the concrete with just a shirt and trousers on. Wayne had thrown a jug of cold water over her. She screamed ‘Wayne! B*****d!’ when he pushed her over. ‘No Wayne,’ she pleaded. ‘No, no Wayne.’

He pushed her to the floor again.

‘B*****d!’ she yelled. ‘I’m going to get the police on you.’

‘The police don’t care,’ he said.

Time passed. I knelt by the glass doors, filming her as she lay on the concrete shivering violently.

Finally, Wayne dragged her in ‘before she turned blue’, as he nonchalantly told a nurse who came by to see what was going on. By 8.30pm, Simone was lying in the corridor refusing to go to bed. To teach her a lesson, Graham and the female colleague who had attacked her in the shower decided to throw jugs of cold water in her face before turning on a cold electric fan to freeze her into complying.

Simone’s day finally ended in her bedroom, where four care workers pinned her to the floor — just to feed her a painkiller. When they’d finished, one of the workers picked up a vase of flowers left by Simone’s mother. Graham emptied the water over Simone’s head while his female colleague shoved the flowers into her face. Simone was too tired
to cry.

Later that evening, I returned to Simone’s room. The place was a tip — the care workers had ripped up the cards which her family had left for her and thrown her flowers around the floor. I’m not the crying type. But that day I walked away from work with my hands shaking and tears in my eyes.

The closest I ever got to intervening — and possibly blowing my cover — was on Simone’s behalf.

One day I had to restrain myself from defending Simone physically against the attacks on her.

Wayne had, once again, grabbed hold of her. This time he trapped her under a chair while he sat on it. He did this fairly frequently — sometimes for half an hour while he watched television. If she cried out he would reach down and pull her hair. I saw him stamp on her hand, too.

The appalling truth is that before my investigation, a whistleblower had written twice to Castlebeck management complaining about support workers, saying they appeared to enjoy restraining techniques. Nothing was done

This time Simone had been forced to lie face-down — which is an absolute no-no in the restraint of patients, due to the danger of suffocation. And instead of resting the chair on the floor, the weight of its legs — and Wayne — had been put on Simone’s bare flesh.

Simone seemed to be coping, but I kept a close eye on her. At one point, I got on my knees to film Simone as she lay inert. Wayne leered at me. He thought I was trying to get closer to the action. I had to remind myself that the best outcome for her would be for me to expose what was going on, rather than intervene then.

Twice, I was nearly caught filming.

On the first occasion I was restraining a patient when I caught sight of my arm. The specially-designed button covering the camera on my elbow had popped off and the camera was exposed. Luckily, the nurse next to me didn’t notice.

The second time it happened I was with another support worker, standing with Simone by the window, trying to distract her from thumping the glass pane with her fists.
Without warning, she made a lunge for my shirt and managed to rip it open, revealing the wires underneath. I clamped it shut with my fists.

After five weeks of filming, Panorama decided to pull me out early. As soon as I left, we alerted Social Services and the families of some patients.We also contacted

Castlebeck, the private healthcare provider which owns Winterbourne View Hospital.

Ironically, it was winner of the 2010 Healthcare 100 Best Employers Award. Thirteen members of Winterbourne View staff were suspended and police are now investigating.
When he was confronted with our damning evidence, the chief executive of Castlebeck, Lee Reed, told Panorama that he was ‘ashamed’ of what had gone on.

Thankfully, Simone is now safe. Her parents, with the help of Social Services, removed her from Winterbourne View and found a new hospital

But the appalling truth is that before my investigation, whistleblower Terry Bryan — a former nurse at the hospital — had written twice to Castlebeck management complaining about the attitude of support workers, saying that they appeared to enjoy restraining techniques. Nothing was done.

Mr Bryan even wrote to the national regulator, the Care Quality Commission. But, again, nothing.

In an interview with Panorama, Lee Reed promised a thorough review of his company, including its care culture and medical protocols.

An external advocacy group is to be brought in to review the patient experience at the firm’s 22 private hospitals and residential homes, while a whistleblowing helpline is being set up for its 2,100 employees.

The Care Quality Commission has also ordered an investigation into all Castlebeck facilities and apologised for failing to respond to the whistleblower.

This comes as little comfort to Simone’s devoted parents. Their daughter had told them she was being hit and kicked. Simone’s mother, not believing that anyone could be capable of harming her kind, loving daughter, had told her: ‘No Simone. That would not have happened. It would not be allowed.’

To be fair, without hard evidence, what went on in Winterbourne View would have been unbelievable to most people. But that doesn’t take away the guilt Simone’s parents still feel at not listening.

Thankfully, Simone is now safe. Her parents, with the help of Social Services, removed her from Winterbourne View and found a new hospital.

She is now settling in, seemingly unaware of the crucial role she played in bringing her tormentors to justice.

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Anonymous said...

This makes me sick that we as taxpayers pay £3,500 a week for this to happen. This is inhumane and i classify thr things these 'scumbags' in a light word as torturers who would only fit in at Guantonemo Bay. I had tears in my eyes watching this last night for many reasons.

Anonymous said...

In a world and with a medical system that would encourage mother to abort their children if they suspected they would be mentally disabled, can we REALLY be too surprised that those who make it to birth are treated as second class citizens?

As evil as the abusers are, and as horrible as most of us find their actions, they are at least consistent.

I struggle with the notion that the "best" thing to do is to destroy a disabled child before it is born to avoid "suffering" or a life less perfect (than yours), but if somehow they are not destroyed then we need to spend several hundred thousand a year per disabled person to give them a "quality of life" they deserve. That seems inconsistent to me.

Anonymous said...

ooo, anonymous, i really understand where you're coming from. disabled people are truly second class citizens and are discriminated as such. the only problem is that you can't anticipate every disability, i.e. sometimes defects cannot be detected pre-birth, i.e. autism or brain damage. yeh, lets torture them on a daily basis to get our taxpayers moneysworth yeh??? one day, you may have a car crash and be brain damaged and need 24hour care...hope you have nice carers