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Another review of modern day asylums is not enough

In response to the Care Quality Commission’s report “Review of restraint, prolonged seclusion and segregation for people with a mental health problem, a learning disability and or autism”, we are joining with others to call on government to create a new health and care system which puts people’s relationships at its centre.

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Alex Fox, CEO, Shared Lives Plus, responds: “We are glad that the CQC is yet again, shining a light on the human rights abuses happening behind closed doors in our health and care system.

It is unacceptable that adults and children as young as 11 are held in seclusion. In the prison system, this “seclusion” would be called “solitary confinement”, which is no place for people with learning disabilities, autism, or mental ill health. As well-intentioned as people working in care services are, the system that UK governments allow to continue in this present day is shocking: they are modern day asylums.

We believe that every person has the right to a family life. The CQC’s recommendations for independent reviews of individual arrangements and the system do not go far enough. We know that people locked up and restrained fall into a cycle of distress, anger and more ‘challenging behaviour’ that justifies ongoing restrictions.

Without bolder changes, the cycle of reports and reviews continues endlessly, as it has done for too long and living as part of the community will remain a dream for people locked in a system.

The government must go further than advocacy: when stays in institutions become extended, we want rights to be triggered for people and their independent advocates to take charge of the vast sums of money spent on this care, and to put together their alternative proposals for an ordinary life, with people they choose to spend time with, doing things they enjoy.

Shared Lives care offers people, labelled with ‘challenging behaviour’ and given unnecessary medication, the life-changing chance to form stable, long-term relationships with people they choose and enjoy being with. The impact that this has on our mental, physical and emotional health is profound and deserves investment to enable every person in this country the choice of where and who they live with.”

Escaping the asylum, a new health and social care system, is Alex Fox’s vision for a future where responsibilities, resources, and risks will be more fairly and transparently shared between citizens, families and services.