Disabled People in the UK share their stories of leaving institutions
We feel we just have to mention some great work that has been done by Shaun Webster and our friends at CHANGE. Shaun has been working hard to produce a report on what life is like in an institution. The report ‘Leaving Institutions – Voices for Change’ makes a series of recommendations from people with learning disabilities. Devised and researched by CHANGE, the report has been supported and funded by Lumos, the charity founded by JK Rowling to end the institutionalisation of children across the world. This report adds to the body of evidence about how the views and wishes of people with learning disabilities who live in institutions must be considered fully during the deinstitutionalisation processes in other countries.
In the light of the recent scandals at Winterbourne View and Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, this report is also of vital importance within the UK. It brings home to policy makers and practitioners everywhere the importance of ensuring that the voices of people with learning disabilities are central and are heard.
This report, written by Shaun Webster, a project coordinator for CHANGE and who himself has a learning disability, brought together the experiences of a number of adults, most of whom have learning disabilities, who had themselves been through the process of moving from institutional care into community-based services. As part of this research, Shaun interviewed a number of adults who are supported by ‘Enable Care and Home Support’ in Chesterfield. He also visited an institution in Central Europe for children and adults with disabilities. This experience was deeply moving and had a profound effect on Shaun, especially as a person with a learning disability.
Shaun Webster, Project Coordinator at CHANGE, says:
“I noticed that the young people lived in over-crowded rooms and it looked to me like they slept in cots. I was really upset to see this. I was moved to tears and felt angry. It made me think that if I, a person with a learning disability, was born in a country similar to this, would I have had to live my life in an institution? I don’t think I would ever have had children. I would have missed being a parent, and having a job and living independently.”
“I really hope that this research can be used as a force for good, to show that people with learning disabilities are the experts regarding their own lives. We need to be included in decisions that affect us.”
Georgette Mulheir, Chief Executive Officer at Lumos adds:
“The process of moving people, regardless of age, out of an institutional care setting into a family-based or community based care provision is a huge step. The impact should not be underestimated and the right level of support is crucial.
“The experiences of the people in this report remind us that it is critical to listen to those who are in an institutional care system, in the UK and elsewhere, and that they need to be involved in the decisions that affect them. I hope the recommendations in this report give that voice to those who are rarely heard”.
Jackie King-Owen, Executive Director of Enable Group adds:
“We were very excited to be part of Shaun’s research as we have been part of a positive move from the hospital to community. Our residents welcome the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and to reflect on the positive impact on their lives since moving out of the institution.”
To download a copy of the report visit the CHANGE website at
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