I sincerely apologise for sharing a Daily Mail article, however, the content here is very important and I do feel the need to say something.
In my previous role I was involved in a piece of work which was bringing a number of people out of long stay, secure hospital placements back into their local areas and set up homes for them. These individuals were all complex with many behaviours that were difficult to manage and some mental health issues and profound disabilities. It wasn’t easy to set up the services but it was about long term thinking for people who had been left in the wrong environments for too long.
This work was part of the post Winterbourne View scandal legislation to stop people being isolated in these kind of placements. There was of course a cost involved and the local authorities had to spend to do this. That spend was negated by the fact that these placements can cost hundreds of thousands per year, which makes it of no interest to those services for people to be discharged.
In the article, it describes Elysium, a company setting up several of these secure services for people with Autism and disabilities to gain access to these millions of pounds that local authorities would have to pay.
I work for charities and have done for 17 years, gaining profit has never been on the agenda for these organisations, surviving and providing a good service has been. It is alarming that a corporately funded organisation should provide this kind of care, let alone the fact that these services are supposed to be reducing in number due to the general recognition that they don’t always meet a need and are ridiculously expensive.
There is of course a need for secure treatment services, many people in crisis are at risk and need to be protected from themselves. I find it hard not to think there’s political connections allowing these to be set up. Unlike some industries, health and care are subject to local authority scrutiny as unless clients are entirely privately referred the individuals accessing these will come from the local authority. One past problem, and likely still going on is many of these isolated “specialist” services seem to go under the radar or pass their inspections despite not being fit for actual humans to inhabit.
You may say I’m being cynical, specialist care is expensive, and someone has to do it. Maybe these places will be amazing and really help people? Maybe these services will be progressive and move people on when they are ready to? Maybe, but historically speaking that hasn’t happened. Additionally to that Elysium is owned by an equity investment company which again, historically has little interest in the wellbeing of people.
Elysium’s starting salary for a hospital assistant/support worker in London is £16,000, which is barely enough to live off and also means they won’t get good staff. All of the abuse scandals over recent years have been in isolated services, with low paid staff who are under-trained and under managed and under-monitored. The majority have also been private companies (some charities are also guilty though) so you can see why I would be angry about this development.
This company starting these services and probably earning astronomical amounts of money while barely paying their staff enough to live is most definitely a step backwards, it’s an embarrassment to health and social care. I promise that one day, maybe soon a person like me will be going into these places to fix the mess they have made. This kind of thing is an outrage and should this company open a place in your town you should challenge them in whatever way you can, do you want abuse around your corner?