In 1981, I went on placement as a clinical trainee to a large mental handicap hospital in Surrey. I had never encountered people with learning disabilities before, and I was shocked to the core. But I was a qualified general nurse, and I was used to clearing up the messes bodies make when they’re ill or distressed. I was also used to pulling curtains around people on bedpans, to chasing doctors out of the women’s wards while personal care was being delivered, and to helping people to eat when they had forgotten how. I saw how morale was raised by giving patients a wash and set before visiting. … Continue reading Winterbourne’s Silent Majority
After posting last week about our staff awards night and reading this week our chief executive’s blog on same, my mind suddenly fell over an uncomfortable memory. It concerned the contrast between the unspoken freedoms that attending this event represented and the infuriating and humiliating constraints that are the more common experience of most people with learning disabilities. Heavy Load is a Brighton-based punk rock band comprising a mixed membership of people with and without learning disabilities and their mission is to change the way staffing shifts impact on their social lives. This is what they say Lots of people … Continue reading ‘Heavy Load’ and the ‘Stay Up Late’ campaign
∑ Until mid June at any rate! For some reason, all the calls for new research funding bids are open now and have to be submitted in the next few weeks, come Hull, Hell or Halifax! Along with that is the mandatory report on our virtual world study, delayed by Christmas, snow, and participants who would rather go line dancing (who can blame them?) than talk to us. We pleaded for an extension. Computer said no. Resoundingly. So today I went into free-fall over the data for the recent study, had an apoplectic moment over my mean squares while trying … Continue reading Goodbye friends and family!
This is the man whose name I could not find. It was on a news item that preceded a programme I had recorded and I am relieved that I did not imagine it but horrified that the details were far worse than I had thought. here are some quotes from the newspaper: ‘Michael Gilbert, 26, was used as a ‘dogsbody and slave’, shackled to a bed and attacked by the group’s pet pit bulls.’ ‘Mr Gilbert finally died after a new form of torture was devised, involving members of the family jumping on his stomach.’ ‘They then hacked his corpse … Continue reading Michael Gilbert, murdered by the people he lived with
People with learning disabilities used to be unseen members of our communities, hidden away in institutions with no voice and little contact with their more advantaged neighbours. The changes in philosophy that came with Wolfensberger’s ‘Normalisation’ thrust in the early 1980s led to closure of institutions and the end of inappropriate incarceration for people whose only ‘fault’ was one of intellectual limitation. I have worked in some of those institutions and I have also worked in services at the leading edge of change. In the 21st century, it is the norm for people to live as independently as possible with … Continue reading Vulnerable Victims: a new page to record our shameful society
The news item appeared a couple of days ago. It reported on the perpetrators of years of abuse and dreadful attacks made on a vulnerable man who was unable to defend himself. This family had taken him in when he was homeless but not, it seems, for his care and protection, more to meet their own needs for a servant who could be scapegoated and beaten for amusement. The Court was shown mobile phone footage of this man being hit in the face, seeing the blows coming but having neither the wit nor the will to protect himself. He died, … Continue reading Another man with learning disabilities murdered
By Mark E. Smith “Isn’t it peculiar how people – including those of us with disabilities, ourselves – take specific character traits and somehow universally attribute them to those with disabilities?” For the full article, go to Mark’s blog and read his extremley erudite discussion of the problems associated with disablity and social judgments. Continue reading Disability commentary