Too many people with learning disabilities and autistic adults are being failed by the housing and care system.
The aim of the campaign is to promote preventative approaches in terms of commissioning, human rights-based practice, the role of social work and legal literacy to reduce the risk of situations from reaching the point of hospital admission.
Where the person is already subject to this type of care and treatment, they need to be supported to leave as quickly as possible to a place they want to live with the right support in place.
BASW England is calling for everyone across the social work community and beyond in health, social care and housing to support this campaign and action being taken to lobby the Government for change.
As social workers our practice is underpinned by social justice, safeguarding and upholding people’s Human Rights, and ensuring people’s voices are heard. That is what the Homes not Hospitals campaign is all about.AttributionLiz Howard, BASW England Professional Officer
Nobody can explain the issue better than those with lived experience of these hospital units.
Amy Telford is autistic and spent three years in such a unit. She recalls “no real autism support” and her struggles to “integrate into the everyday life of the ward”.
“The unit was loud and so intense, it just wasn’t nice,” says Amy. “I got stuck there because they couldn’t find a more suitable autism specialist unit. They were the wrong environments, they weren’t recovery-based and autism specific, even though they were saying they were.”
Now living in the community with a support plan, Amy is much happier. "If I had the plans I have now when I was younger, a lot of what I went through could have been avoided. Also, having the support in the community rather than having to be in an in-patient unit would have really helped. It has been a long journey and it’s so sad it has taken that long to get the help I needed."
Of course, parents and family members of people in these units suffer too. Andrea Attree describes her struggle trying to get support for her daughter Danielle, who is still in the system.
Andrea says, “She was going through a crisis that could easily have been supported in the community. There are so many parents who don’t know what to do, they are frightened. It is a really hard fight, it takes up your whole life, every time you complain there is an obstacle. It just wears people down. We need to stop thinking we need more hospitals. We wouldn’t need these places that cost millions of pounds to build and run if we had the community services. If we don’t break that cycle, we are just investing in a broken model.”
Meanwhile, Samantha Lamb who has learning difficulties said: "If I was to meet the Prime Minister my message would be stop putting people in assessment and treatment units and put more funding into the community so people can live a normal life in the community. People with learning difficulties like me need to be trained up to work in the community with other people with learning disabilities and peer advocacy.”
Our campaign has many key stakeholders and has already gained support from people with lived experience, principal social workers (PSWs) and organisations promoting better opportunities for autistic people and people with learning disabilities to live the life they choose with the right housing and support.
Some of our supporters include Andrew Reece, Head of integrated Learning Disability Service at Camden local authority, who said: “I was on the team looking at best practices in commissioning. We need to take these documents further and show commissioners everywhere that it is possible to do the right thing for and with the people who need support. Let's just roll up our sleeves and do it!”
The campaign has the support from members of the Government, such as Fran Leddra, chief social worker at the Department of Health & Social Care. She said: “I really welcome BASW’s new resources… As social workers, we are committed to upholding the rights of the individuals we support and ensuring they are treated with dignity and respect. It is important that we ensure those services we commission do the same…These resources are a must read for social workers and will really help improve practice and deliver the best possible outcomes for citizens.”
Mary Simpson, chair of Autism Alliance has described our resources as “vital to support the role of the social worker and commissioning to reduce the risk of situations reaching the point of hospital admission.”
While, Stephen Chandler, president of ADASS, said: ‘‘ADASS would like to place on record our thanks to BASW for the enormous time, effort and expertise which was invested in the production of these resources. We will be recommending to ADASS Members that they take careful consideration of the content.”
Support for Social Workers
A set of resources, webinars, statements and guidance have been developed for social workers to use to support their practice and also to promote the campaign.
These resources developed collaboratively with people and families and key partners from across the sector have been designed to support best practice with commissioning and to enable social workers to uphold people’s human rights.AttributionMaris Stratulis, BASW England National Director
Best Practice Commissioning with Citizens & Communities Statement
This statement has been developed to support social workers and organisations involved in commissioning support for autistic people, people with learning disabilities and their families in response to Building the Right Support and Evaluation of Building the Right Support.
The Role of the Social Worker & Legal Literacy
This document is for social workers in a range of settings and roles who are supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autistic people (who may also have mental health problems), their families and carers.
The easy read version is available here.
Examples of Best Practice Commissioning with Citizens & Communities
Key Guidance & Resources
Top Tips for Social Workers
Quick Guide: Legal Literacy
A guide to help understanding of and when to apply the main statutory legal frameworks.