On 6th February 2018, the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board published their review (PDF), commissioned the previous March to pull together what they had learned from the failures to identify and act on bullying and abusive behaviour towards six autistic adult residents of the NAS-run home. Although Mendip House itself was closed in 2016, NAS has 6 remaining homes at Somerset Court, and another 37 currently registered in other locations.
The SSAB review was reported extensively in the media:
- Highbridge’s Mendip House staff ‘engaged in cruel behaviour’ [BBC]
- Autism charity accused of hiding horrific abuse at care home [Telegraph]
- Somerset care home staff bullied autistic residents, review finds [Guardian]
- Review into abuse at Mendip House, Brent Knoll, reveals shocking stories [Somerset County Gazette]
- Autistic patients in Somerset ‘bullied’ by care home staff [ITV]
- Autism home staff rode residents like horses and fed them raw onion but NOBODY will face prosecution [Mirror]
- Nationwide changes needed, says inquiry into ‘cruelty’ at autism care home [Belfast Telegraph]
The National Autistic Society responded, offering an unreserved apology and a statement by CEO, Mark Lever:
You can also read the Care Quality Commission’s response to the SSAB review here:
- CQC’s response to the safeguarding adult review of Mendip House [CQC]
- Mendip House: Overview and CQC Inspections [CQC]
Along with many autistic people, AIM believe:
- It is unacceptable that those responsible have not been held accountable. We believe criminal charges were appropriate and do not accept the Police and CPS’s decision not to prosecute.
- It is unacceptable that NAS had reports of serious incidents as early as 2014, two years prior to the whistleblower bringing it to the attention of the CQC, and failed to respond adequately thereby allowing abuse to continue unchecked for the intervening two years.
- An apology and a promise to do better is not enough. We believe that more rigorous safeguarding is absolutely required to protect autistics in their care, because NAS have not demonstrated they are able to identify and act on abuse in a sufficiently timely or effective manner.
We have one focus in all of this: for autistics in residential care to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be protected from abuse.
On Thursday 29th March, in conjunction with Agony Autie, we have organised a peaceful protest outside NAS headquarters in London. An associated protest is being held at the same time in Leeds.