As expected Channel 4’s Dispatches programme ‘Under Lock and Key’ – which told the story of families whose vulnerable young people are locked away in hospitals – was not an easy watch.
The content really struck a chord with many of the Frontier team because we support people like Fauzia and Matthew every day. Except we do it in homes of their own as part of a supported living programme.
At Frontier we have a no physical intervention policy and we find creative ways to support vulnerable people with a range of needs including very challenging behaviour. Whether that means making changes to their environment to reflect their sensory needs – one lady struggles to cope with bright or multiple colours so our team dress accordingly and the decoration is kept very muted – or using positive risk taking strategies to give people control of their own lives – a gentleman who transitioned to us from an Assessment and Treatment Unit was used to being kept behind a locked door but now lives without any restrictions to his liberty. Yes, these things require thought, planning and continuous assessment. But it can be done and the results speak for themselves.
It was extremely distressing to still be hearing about prone restraint, over medication and isolation but necessary to shine a light on the fact these practices are still in use. Lovely to see positive outcomes for Matthew and Fauzia. But how many still need help?
Many of the people we support actually moved out of these hospitals directly into their own homes and we (and their families) can see tangible differences in their behaviours and enjoyment of day to day life. We have one gentleman who was previously living in shared accommodation but found it very difficult sharing support with his housemates and his behaviour became extremely challenging. Since moving to his own accommodation he has one to one care and is therefore much happier and more comfortable. And since his needs are being met there have been no incidences of challenging behaviour. Plus he’s taking full advantage of the extra support by getting out and about and involved in local activities.
There’s a great deal of good practice in social care but clearly still much to be done and this programmeserved as a very useful and sobering reminder of that.