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“Devoid of kindness and respect”

Nine former employees of Whorlton Hall are being prosecuted following a BBC Panorama investigation into neglect, verbal and psychological abuse at the Cygnet Healthcare-run service. In court, prosecutors described the defendants’ behaviour towards individuals with learning disability, mental health and autistic individuals as “devoid of kindness and respect.”

Evidence shown in the 2019 documentary of verbal abuse, staff mocking individuals and threats of restraint was clearly in breach of guidance in place following the Winterbourne View case of 2011. Still today, ITV News has recently reported on people with a learning disability and autistic people being “treated” in mental health units. The Whorlton Hall Serious Case Review considers lessons learned through this wider lens, “a window to the system”, rather than the Panorama investigation in isolation. So what are the lessons learned from Whorlton Hall, the experiences of Jon and Ben at Cawston Park, the detention of Tony Hickmott and the avoidable death of Clive Treacey?

Issues within Services:

  • Lack of standards and systems for internal safeguarding

  • Lack of trusting relationships between individuals and staff

  • Limited advocacy for individuals

  • Inconsistent working between CQC and local authorities to improve safeguarding outcomes

  • Gaps in guidance and funding for emergency specialist hospital closures following organisational abuse

  • No national approach to building right support or co-ordinate resourced action to transform support

  • No evidence-based quality assurance of services for people with learning disabilities or autistic people


  • Standardised HR approaches to investigate allegations or disclosures against staff

  • Improved risk assessment procedures to address safeguarding concerns

  • All individuals with a learning disability and autistic people in the UK to have a named social worker

  • Continuous, frequent and regular advocacy provision

  • Better communication across the board to avoid either duplicating organisational quality assurance or having none at all

  • Consistency in structure and skill base of frontline support teams

What Next?:

So, what can you do to ensure your team is working towards improved, individualised outcomes which empower and protect the individuals they support? Bespoke, expert training in Law, Ethics and Safeguarding and Empowerment and Person-Centred Support could be part of tailored approach to ensure your team’s approach exceeds the above recommendations.

How Can I Help :

I would love to help you achieve this!

An introductory virtual coffee will give us an opportunity to develop a creative solution to your current pain points. You can book in using my calendar link:

You can download my free guide, “The Dos and Don’ts of Safeguarding Adults with a Learning Disability”, just click on the link:!AqvMv6P9VasVhGocnbRc2XsvRrfw

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