Last night in the U.K, BBC1 aired a programme called Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed. The synopsis of this programme goes as follows –
On the top floor of a special hospital, locked away from their families and friends, a group of men and women are subjected to a regime of physical assaults, systematic brutality, and torture by the very people supposed to be caring for them.
The victims are some of the most vulnerable in society – the learning disabled, the autistic, and the suicidal. In a Panorama Special, Paul Kenyon exposes the truth about a gang of carers out of control, and how the care system ignored all the warning signs.
For those of you who do not know about Panorama, it’s an hour long programme that goes out to expose certain topics that are happening in the world. More recent programmes from this series that have been aired include “Fifi: Football’s Shame” which is aimed towards the corruption within the football association and how there have been bribes to let certain countries hold the World Cup.
But going back to last nights Panorma, a man called Joe was behind the secret filming in the hospital, and having never been a care worker before, he was overwhelmed at how these so-called carers handled their patients. As the description of the programme states, there was a lot of violence towards the patients, which included dragging them from bed, punching them for ‘fun’ and more or less strangling them after takling them to the floor if they shouted at the carers.
The level of torture that went on in this programme was frightful and truely upsetting to watch. I was sat shouting at my TV, with tears streaming down my face at the level of abuse and assult these vunerable people were recieving. It was shocking to actually see how they were handled, what was happening to them and how the patients were used for entertainment and a punch bag for these sick carers to use to pass their time.
One scene shown included an 18 year old girl called Simone, who was mentally disabled. She took the brunt of the torture from a ‘carer’ called Wayne. Wayne used to work in a young persons institute, and so his way with handling the patients included putting a chair over Simone’s body and sitting on it so she was trapped then putting his foot on her hand, causing her to scream out in pain, while another care worker thought it would be funny to wrap a towel around her head tightly.
Another moment of torture for Simone was when she was ‘taking a shower’ which in fact, she was sitting in the corner of the shower, with her clothes on and two carers, threw buckets of water over her, before taking her outside in the freezing cold where she led down and began shivering before Wayne decided to take her inside after 20 minutes of being soaking wet in zero degree temperatures – but that wasn’t all of it. Simone received some horrendous abuse from being sat on and forced to swallow a tablet, having her hair pulled, being dragged across the floor, and having a carers arm across the throat.
Both her parents watched the footage recorded by Panorama and burst into tears, distressed at the scenes they were watching, telling the reporter that the carers should be locked up.
Simone’s mother admitted that Simone had tried to tell her what was happening to her but her mother brushed it off telling her that “it wouldn’t happened, they’re not allowed…and we’ve let her down by not believing her”
Since the programme, Simone has been moved to another care home, away from the abuse she suffered daily but Simone wasnt the only one subjected to this disgusting behaviour from people who are meant to be caring for them. A man called Simon, who is 36, has the mental age of a 4 year old and loved giving bear hugs to everyone he saw and met.
An interview with a former nurse at the home said “The bear hugs were his way of saying hello and the people there didn’t like it as they didn’t know what to do.”
Joe said he began to get close to Simon and said he was “an interesting patient, always make me laugh, always makes me smile…hes brilliant, i love spending time with him”
Yet to other ‘carers’ he was too much for them to handle. Wayne, especially, would punch him until Simon would say Ding Ding which to Simon meant he would stop, yet the abuse never did stop and he would cower in his chair hoping Wayne stop punching him.
Simon also has a bottle, which is like a safety blanket to him and the carers thought it would be funny to take it from him and start throwing it to each other while Simon began to become hysterical and closed the window in fear of them throwing it outside – which indicated the carers had done this before.
Wayne – who seemed to be the main person in torturing these poor souls, tackled Simon to the floor when he told Wayne to ‘Sod off’ yet the move has said to be a ‘martial arts technique’ when the tapes were watched and analysised by Clinical psycholgist Andrew McDonnell, who looked in disgust over what was happening in the hospital.
He goes on to say “That has no place in any kind of care home.”
Panorama approached Simon’s mother and brother, the same as Simone, and they ask to see the footage. Throughout they are clearly distressed over the treatment and the assult that Simon is recieiving, and his mother is reduced to tears and anger telling the reporter “We’ll fight to move him or get him back home with us.”
At the end of the programme, Simon is reunited at home with his mother and brother and says “I dont want to stay there ever again” to which his mother replies “No, i promise you, you wont have to”
Simone and Simon were lucky to be moved away from the dreadful and horrific torture they faced at Winterbourne View, but this isn’t the first nor will it be the last time vunerable people will be subjected to distressing assults from people of higher power.
With this care home and the people involved being investgated by the police, I just wonder how many other care homes assult their patients and how long until they too, are under investigation and are blacklisted from ever working with vunerable people again.
If you want to watch this programme; http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011pwt6