Dispatches matthewSuffice to say, there has been a lot of reaction to Channel 4’s recent documentary  “Dispatches – Under Lock and Key”. And if I’m honest, most of it has been said far more eloquently than I could manage! So, I’m going to keep this short.

Despite the obvious horror at the experiences shown, there were also positives to be taken from the programme. I loved the little section where support staff were helping Fauzia to deal with transitions between activities. A relatively simple strategy, but one that took thought and planning, and some knowledge about autism and behaviour.

It was wonderful to see how the right support meant that harmful behaviours were almost eliminated in a matter of weeks.

So how about this for an idea? Why doesn’t each local authority employ a small team of behavioural specialists, trained in Positive Behaviour Support? That way, when a family or service are struggling to cope due to an escalation in behaviours, they’ve got someone they can ask for help. That specialist can come in, properly assess the behaviours, and help the carers to come up with effective strategies.

Yes, it would mean paying their salaries. But surely, that would work out cheaper than spending hundreds of thousands of pounds annually on a single placement! And more importantly, families would avoid the heartbreak of their loved one being locked away, and people with learning disabilities and autism would be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Seems like a simple, easy to implement, cost effective idea to me….although given the lack of progress since Winterbourne, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to happen!

But here’s hoping…

Dispatches Fauzia Yasmin Hussain

Fauzia Yasmin Hussain, who was featured in the programme

If you missed it, you can watch it here.