Care dogma should not usurp residents’ needs

The JC Leader, 6 May 2021


senior woman, 93 years old, with hand on walking cane, being touched by hand of younger persong

May 06, 2021 12:54

Last month, Norwood, the community’s leading charity for people with learning disabilities and autism, announced a review into the future of its Ravenswood Village in Berkshire. It said there would be a three month consultation process, implying that no decision has yet been taken. But the charity’s rationale for the consultation shows that it has. Norwood says that Ravenswood, “now unfortunately represents a dated model of care, which is no longer supported by national policy and is no longer being commissioned by local authorities”. Translated from bureaucratese, that means that the charity has made up its mind and is not offering a consultation so much as giving notice to the families of Ravenswood’s 96 residents. 

A long-planned redevelopment was scuppered last year when the local authority refused planning permission and the development partner withdrew. But a more fundamental problem is the dogma that has taken hold in which the pursuit of “independence” has been used to destroy almost all traditional forms of care — no matter how excellent the care or how greatly valued by those who need it. Norwood’s CEO used precisely that language in her remarks about the consultation: “National guidance now emphasises the importance of individual choice and independence for everyone, including the need for services to be located in areas where people can easily participate in the community.” Yet Ravenswood is not some backward Victorian asylum but a vibrant, welcoming and much-loved ‘village’, where — according to the Care Quality Commission — residents are “valued and treated with kindness, dignity and respect”. Since the misnamed consultation was announced, the parents and families of residents have expressed their devastation, many expressing the terrible fear they now have for their loved one’s future wellbeing. It is heartbreaking — and it is very wrong. 

May 06, 2021 12:54

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