Panorama captures torture and abuse in UK care homes

1 Jun

I try and watch programmes about special needs issues if I can. It helps to stay abreast of the latest issues in the wider special needs community.

However, last nights Panorma I had already decided I simply couldn’t watch.

In one scene in the programme, a male support worker seems to goad a female patient to throw herself out of a second-floor window. He says: “Go on, do it now I’m here. I’d love to see you try it: you will go flying. … When you hit the floor, do you reckon you will make a thud or a splat?”

In another scene, a second male support worker is seen to act as a Nazi camp commandant, repeatedly slapping a patient across the face with a pair of leather gloves and saying: “Nein, nein, nein!”

Staff, sometimes with qualified nurses watching, used forms of restraint that an expert described as closer to martial arts rather than any approved technique. A female patient is seen pinned beneath a chair for more than 30 minutes with one support worker sitting in the chair and keeping his foot on her wrist, while a second worker kneels on her legs.


The patients in this case are mentally ill people, people with learning difficulties and people with autism.

What I did watch – for awhile – was the Twitter stream of people reacting to the programme but when it became clear that the programme was just as awful as I thought it might be I simply had to turn that off too.

Maybe you’re stronger than me. If so, theres an example of the sort of thing Panorama captured here.

Whether you watch it or don’t, pass it on to others to watch. Maybe those who aren’t aware will realise that for those of us with friends and relatives with special needs, this issue is of paramount importance.

8 Responses to “Panorama captures torture and abuse in UK care homes”

  1. Concerned Mom June 1, 2011 at 19:19 #

    I’m in the United States so I had to watch the program on You Tube. Absolutely heartbreaking. I hope those abusive ‘carers’ were brought up on charges and arrested. I also hope that the residents of Winterbourne View who suffered the abuse were provided with appropriate counseling to deal with the trauma they endured. It brings tears to my eyes, I can’t even think about it.

  2. Brian Morgan June 1, 2011 at 22:46 #

    I watched this tonight, on watch-again. I watched with a professional, a nurse. She was so angry.

    I’m a journalist and understood that my profession might be invited to expose misdeeds. But there was a moment when that young woman was being soaked repeatedly, and shaking on camera, when I thought the BBC person employed and doing covert filming should have called 999 (the UK emergency number).

  3. Sharon June 7, 2011 at 05:25 #

    It’s taken me several days to get the courage to watch a short amount of footage. I’m glad to know suspensions and arrests have now been made.

  4. stanley seigler June 7, 2011 at 20:24 #

    torture and abuse in UK care homes…in USA…world wide abuse and torture…

    NYTimes excerpt say: Jonathan, a skinny, autistic 13-year-old, was asphyxiated, slowly crushed to death in the back seat of a van by a state employee…”I could be a good king or a bad king,” he told the dying boy beneath him, according to court documents.

    for entire article: NY Times: Death Highlights Crisis in Care for the Disabled” by Danny Hakin.

    the abusers are protected by confidentiality laws in USA…they should be treated like pedophiles…names and residences posted.

    stanley seigler

  5. Calli Arcale June 8, 2011 at 20:03 #

    Yes, that’s a good reminder, Stanley, that we can’t just point at this particular case and think that oh good, it’s all been solved, this is not something that happens elsewhere. It happens all over the world, and quite possibly in our own backyards. Here in Minnesota, we’ve had cases of kids (sometimes with behavioral/psychological problems, sometimes not) who died due to improper restraint, and usually all that happens is the employer is fined. If that.

    I’m not sure it’s actually true that confidentiality laws really do protect the abusers in these situations. I think that’s more of a shield that lawsuit-fearing employers use, and may be more out of ignorance than a real legal opinion. I’d like to hear the opinion of an actual lawyer on that one.

  6. stanley seigler June 8, 2011 at 22:15 #

    [Calli Arcale say] I think that’s more of a shield that lawsuit-fearing employers use, and may be more out of ignorance than a real legal opinion…

    this is what i meant…the laws probably not written to specifically protect the abuser…but the way they are interpreted does protect the abuser…

    the first step should be to make the abuser’s name public…the abused’s name can be kept confidential.

    stanley seigler

  7. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. June 9, 2011 at 16:05 #

    Stanley said: “the laws probably not written to specifically protect the abuser…but the way they are interpreted does protect the abuser…”

    Umm…. yep. That’s about right.

  8. icarehome April 20, 2012 at 14:51 #

    The programme was indeed an awful expose, but one that needed to be made. The BBC’s Panaroma programme has more to say on the matter with further revelations in a follow-up programme due to be aired at the end of April 2012.

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