Lavinia is 20 years old. She loves to laugh and listen to music. She enjoys gardening and she loves to talk about blackbirds and flowers. Simone is 18 years old. She is exuberant and strong-willed. Her favourite occupation is jumping on a trampoline, playing hula-hoop and cleaning. But whenever she tends to feel upset, she would lie on the floor and refuse to move and even try to tear up the carpet.
When she talked Lavinia’s vioce is slightly slurred because she has a personality disorder and learning disabilities. And Simone has a genetic disorder similar to Down’s Syndrome. They were patients at Winterbourne View Hospital, in Hambrook, Bristol which offered assessment and intervention and support for people with learning disabilities and autism.
And this is the story, an undercover report, of the horrors that actually went on in that place.
Four people were arrested after secret filming, showed vulnerable adults at Winterbourne View, in Bristol, being slapped, dragged across the floor and taunted by the people who were supposed to be caring for them.
Reporter Joe Casey who went undercover as a care home assistant had a secret camera hidden in his button hole, which recorded all the barbaric activities of the “care givers” over there. He reveals his first-hand experiences of the suffering inflicted in the care home which led to the arrest of 3 men and one women.
“Just a few feet in front of me, Simone cowered in the corner of the shower, her arms over her head to protect herself from the care workers who had dragged her, fully clothed, beneath the jets of water. They took my silence for acquiescence, occasionally leering in my direction as they tossed shower gel at the 18-year-old, who has learning difficulties, and threw mouthwash into her eyes. I was torn between my instinct to protect the whimpering young woman in front of me and my desire, as an investigative journalist, to ensure I had enough evidence on film to bring her tormentors to justice.”
Several months earlier, Panorama’s producers were approached by a whistle-blower (who was a former nurse in the care house) alleging terrible malpractice at the £3,500-a-week hospital for adults with learning disabilities and autism. With that information, reporter Joe Casey went undercover in order to uncover the truth. Within 2 weeks, he said, he had witnessed chaos and abuse worse that anything he’d expected.
On the hospital’s top floor, there was even a locked corridor with bedrooms down either side and a security system at both ends, with no CCTV and no guests allowed — no one, in fact, who might witness the suffering of the patients.
Wayne — the self-appointed leader of the gang of care workers, was a tall, heavy-set man, his neck, shoulders and arms covered by a giant tattoo of a woman with a tear on her cheek. He went on to “teach” Joe Casey the everyday tasks. Lavina had had a tendency to get quite aggressive — something that was rumoured to be related to a history of abuse. Wayne’s plan was to get her out of bed in such a noisy, unpleasant way that she would turn into a screaming banshee. By exhausting all her anger, he said, she’d be easily manageable for the rest of the day. He began prodding her in the ribs, which then turned into a push and then a vigorous shake and within minutes she was screaming and enraged. After more jeering and prodding Lavinia was so distressed that she had torn off her clothes and was lying naked in the corridor, beating her head on the floor and kicking the walls. Later she tried to jump out the window but was luckily stopped
Joe says “That’s when I found her on her knees behind the sofa, sobbing. Wayne was talking to her. ‘I like watching you lot try to jump,’ he was saying. ‘When you hit the floor do you think you would have made a thud or a splat?’” . Wayne took Joe’s silence as acceptance, and it was easy to convince him and the others that he was on their side by just remaining silent.
“Wayne thought I was a blank canvas, a potential disciple. He enjoyed explaining his methods of controlling patients, not realising how sick they sounded. The violence in some of the care workers’ language was grotesque.‘Do you want me to get out a cheese grater and grate your face off?’ I once heard Wayne say to Simone, the teenager he liked to torment. ‘Do you want me to turn you into a giant pepperoni? Shall I get a razor and cut you up?’
But it was Simone who seemed to bear the brunt of Wayne’s cruelty. On that one terrible day that Joe claims “will haunt me forever”, three of the worst bullies were present and the first attack on Simone came at 9:20.
9:20 am – She was lying in the corridor with Graham(another “Care giver”) kneeling on her knees. She was screaming and nobody responded.
2:00pm – Simone was hunched in a corner of the shower with all her clothes on, and crying for her mother. ‘I warned you,’ a female care worker said, as she spurted shower gel into Simone’s face.
4:30pm – It was March and the temperature was hovering at around freezing point. She was sitting on the concrete with just a shirt and trousers on. Wayne had thrown a jug of cold water over her.
She screamed and pleaded with Wayne.
He pushed her to the floor again.
B*****d!’ she yelled. ‘I’m going to get the police on you.’
‘The police don’t care,’ he said.
Time passed and she lay on the floor shivering. Finally wayne dragged her in.
8:30 pm – Simone was lying in the corridor refusing to go to bed. To teach her a lesson, Graham and the female colleague who had attacked her in the shower decided to throw jugs of cold water in her face before turning on a cold electric fan to freeze her into complying.
Simone’s day finally ended in her bedroom, where four care workers pinned her to the floor — just to feed her a painkiller. When they’d finished, one of the workers picked up a vase of flowers left by Simone’s mother. Graham emptied the water over Simone’s head while his female colleague shoved the flowers into her face. Simone was too tired to cry.
“I’m not the crying type. But that day I walked away from work with my hands shaking and tears in my eyes. The closest I ever got to intervening — and possibly blowing my cover — was on Simone’s behalf.”
This was not the end…
Wayne trapped Simone under a chair and sat on it for more than 30 minutes while he watched tv. If she cried, he would stamp on her hands. Another time he did the same thing, but rested the chairs legs, along with all his weight, on Simone’s bare flesh.
After five weeks of filming, they alerted the social service and the family members of patients. Also, they contacted Castlebeck, the private healthcare provider which owns Winterbourne View Hospital. Ironically, it was winner of the 2010 Healthcare 100 Best Employers Award. “When he was confronted with our damning evidence, the chief executive of Castlebeck, Lee Reed, told Panorama that he was ‘ashamed’ of what had gone on”. But the appalling truth is that, before the investigation, whistle-blower Terry Bryan — a former nurse at the hospital — had written twice to Castlebeck management complaining about the attitude of support workers, saying that they appeared to enjoy restraining techniques. Nothing was done.
Thankfully, Simone is now safe. Her parents, with the help of Social Services, removed her from Winterbourne View and found a new hospital.She is now settling in, seemingly unaware of the crucial role she played in bringing her tormentors to justice.This comes as little comfort to Simone’s devoted parents. Their daughter had told them she was being hit and kicked. Simone’s mother, not believing that anyone could be capable of harming her kind, loving daughter, had told her: ‘No Simone. That would not have happened. It would not be allowed.’
Read the original and full article with pictures here.
They are not ‘Mentally Retarded’. They are just differently abled. That does not mean they can not be as loving and caring and intelligent as we are. Autistic people are even more sensitive to their surroundings that we are. They perceive things better than us. They just need a helping hand, a comforting voice and some one to lean upon when times are tough and frustrating. They need to be taught and guided. They need to be shown the the right way of doing things, just like how you would teach a child. That does not mean they are helpless or that they are not capable. If dealt with in the right way, they can have as good a life as us. They are not wild animals that need to be beaten and screamed at to make them understand. They are mere human beings with abilities a little different than the rest of us. That does not make us extraordinary and them less-than ordinary. Stop using the word retarded. What was once used to describe a medical condition has now turned into mockery. They are just ‘DIFFERENTLY ABLED’ and much better at adapting to situations than most of us.