Channel 4 has exposed the frustrating inadequacies of institutional care

Dispatches investigation found that inpatients with learning disabilities at St Andrew's Healthcare were subject to shocking treatment.

Under Lock and Key, a Channel 4 Dispatches programme about St Andrew’s Healthcare – a large-scale, long-stay institution run by a charity in Northampton, has – once again – thrown the spotlight onto the care of people with learning disabilities.

Anyone watching the programme will have seen some shocking moments.

The family of one of the young people featured, Fauzia Yasmin Hussain who has autism and Tourette’s and was 15 when she was admitted, said she had been kept in segregation for 22 months in a room with little daylight. They contacted former minister for community and social care, liberal democrat Norman Lamb, who said he was ‘horrified’ after visiting the hospital and seeing her treated like a prisoner in a cell.

Another of the families featured was clearly desperate at their son’s treatment but, notably, did not appear to blame the staff. The overwhelming sense was frustration and desperation that their son was in an institution where they could see his mental and physical health was declining but they were not being listened to.

There is more background to this story in the news section and Simon Jones, chair of the RCN’s LD forum, discusses the issues raised in an opinion piece.

Elsewhere in this issue Andrea Page and colleagues present an article on the sensory needs of children with Hunter and Sanfilippo syndromes who need treatment in hospital, and there are two historical articles, one about a former institution and a case study of a woman in the 1940s who received help from another institution to live independently. Daniel Marsden and Ross Wyatt also provide an overview of non-invasive prenatal testing from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

In May we will find out who has won the learning disability category of the 2017 RCNi Nurse Awards. As you will see in the news section, there are some strong contenders. We will also find out at the ceremony in London who has won the overall title of RCN Nurse of Year.

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