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Care provider turns corner after scandal
CARE provider has transformed its staff training scheme in the wake of an abuse scandal uncovered by a BBC Panorama investigation.
Darlington-based Castlebeck said it had learnt many lessons from the revelations made in the undercover documentary, which secretly filmed patients with learning disabilities at its Winterbourne View unit in Bristol being repeatedly pinned down, slapped, taunted and teased.
Since then, in a bid to move forward, the company has spent tens of thousands of pounds on training, hired a new chief operating officer and put in place a quality strategy with an emphasis on safe, sound and supportive care.
Executive chairman Sean Sullivan’s mission statement in the corporate brochure said: “The terrible events of Winterbourne View in 2011 were a wake-up call for all those involved in the health and social care sector.
“There are many lessons learned from what happened and we have endeavored to respond to these and the recommendations, within this strategy.
“However, while we must never forget what happened at Winterbourne View, we must now move forward positively and productively into the future. We are determined to have a clear account at a corporate level in terms of quality, safety and clinical effectiveness of our provision and regular reporting at board level.”
The firm, which employs about 1,000 people, has completely overhauled its training programme to try to ensure there is no repeat of the abuse, and have consulted outside agencies, including the Royal College of Nursing and the British Institute of Learning Disabilities, as well as service users and staff, while developing the new strategy.
Staff are required to undergo two weeks of initial training, including a week focusing on the company’s corporate standards and strategy, as well as ongoing statutory training, and additional training on a rolling basis.
The training programme will be continually reviewed and improved when the company believes it is necessary.
Training is done at the firm’s Darlington headquarters, in a dedicated training centre, and also on the job. Every employee has been given a handbook setting out the firm’s corporate strategy and values.
Every member of staff who enters the Darlington headquarters is being encouraged to sign a board to show they are committed to the company’s strategy and values.
Directors are also giving monthly briefings at every care unit, and staff are being given regular informal opportunities to speak to senior members of staff.
Annual conferences are also being held for nurses, clinical staff and directors.
Chief operating officer Simon Harrison, who took up the post in January, said the new training strategy was about moving forward in a positive way.
“It is about putting a line in the sand and saying, ‘This is a piece of work we have drawn up which is going to help take us forward.
“We want to provide care that is safe, sound and supportive.
“Our training, development and recruitment is all around finding and developing the right people to deliver that.”
Human Resources director Sue Browell said: “Getting to this stage has been a real team effort.
“We are able to evidence the training plan and are being open and transparent about what we are doing. It is about being able to say this is what we are committed to.”