Crippen hears about people with Autism experiencing undignified and inhuman care

Once again, it has fallen to the Disability News Service (DNS) to expose how disabled people are still being treated throughout mental health units in England.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we still lived in the middle ages when you read the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) report into the use of restraint, seclusion and segregation for autistic people and people with learning difficulties and mental health conditions in mental health units in England.

People with Autism have told the care regulator about the “undignified and inhumane” care they have been subjected to in mental health units, including the frequent and traumatising use of segregation and restraint in England.

In the report, Out of Sight – Who Cares?, CQC says it found “too many examples of undignified and inhumane care, in hospital and care settings where people were seen not as individuals but as a condition or a collection of negative behaviours”.

The response to this was often to “restrain, seclude or segregate them”.

DNS tell us that the review calls for “fundamental change in the way care is planned, funded, delivered and monitored”, so it is “underpinned by a firm foundation of human rights”, and restraint, seclusion and segregation “are no longer accepted …”.

Many of those subject to restraint described to CQC its “lasting and traumatising effects”, with one saying about being restrained:

“It makes me feel …dehumanised. I don’t feel like a real human being.”

One patient with autism identified as Alex described how she sought help from mental health services because of a lack of appropriate community care. During an initial 72-hour admission to hospital, she experienced a “catastrophic clash” between her autism and the lighting, noise and chaos of the “box” she was kept in, and quickly became “overloaded”.

In the following months, she was restrained 97 times and secluded 17 times, was forcibly drugged, and her body was left “battered and bruised”, and her identity “fractured”.

She told the review: “They didn’t like the autistic part of me. I tried to tell them that autism is all of me, it’s who I am.

After three-and-a-half years, she was eventually able to flee to Africa where she created a new routine and set up an autism-friendly home, weaned herself off the drugs she was taking, received private treatment from a psychologist, and, after six weeks, started to work as a teacher again.

The key to success, she told the review, “is creating the right environment and treating psychological differences with dignity and respect”.

You can read more about this disturbing report in the Disability News Service article online.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A young white male is strapped to a reclining chair whilst a white, bald thug in a quasi-uniform is shining a strong light in his face. The thug is holding a hypodermic in his other hand and at his feet is a large box with a skull and cross bones and the words drugs printed on it. On the wall, in the shadows is a sign that says Mental Health Unit. The thug is saying: “We have ways of curing you!”

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