The Loopholes that Put the Most Vulnerable People into Appalling Living Conditions

Healthwatch England has demanded that the Department of Health closes the loopholes that cause the most vulnerable people in today’s society to live in substandard conditions with poor care and without regulatory scrutiny.

A disgusted mother had raised her concerns with the health and social care consumer watchdog about the state of her son’s accommodation. Her son has schizophrenia and was living in supported accommodation in Newbury. The property was managed by a not for profit agency, which also provided the care service on behalf of the council. The care was provided to support people with severe mental health problems and help them live independently.

In this particular case, the mother did not visit her son in his dwelling, at his request. He wanted to live independently and she respected this, whilst maintaining telephone contact daily.

When his flat was due to be refurbished attention was suddenly drawn to the state of the place he resided. It was ‘filthy, disgusting and unhygienic.’ He wasn’t alone either, his neighbour, also a schizophrenic sufferer was living in even worse squalor.

The Care Quality Commission was contacted, to no success. The accommodation is an unregulated service and they weren’t able to investigate. This prompted the exasperated mother to turn to the internet and start an online campaign for improved mental health services.

There are approximately 122,000 adults with serious mental health conditions in England that are living independently. The majority of which will be in supported living, receiving home help and using day care centres – all unregulated.

This is not the first public exposure of abuse in supported accommodation – Winterbourne View in 2011 is a prime example. The pledges from that are still eagerly awaited.

The fact that the closures and movement of vulnerable people hasn’t been fully achieved just highlights even more so the need for the services to be regulated and have to adhere to stricter rules and regulations. With regulations in place there can be complaints made and investigations to occur.

The service in question most recently here has replied to comments with; ‘All tenants have care and support plans and these are reviewed regularly. Creative Support does make offers of direct assistance with cleaning, professional deep cleaning and assistance to refurbish their living environment. These may or may not be accepted by an individual and cannot be imposed.’