Katie's Diary

Will a commissioner for vulnerable adults make a difference?

25th February 2016

ubu asks will the plans for a commissioner for vulnerable adults make a difference, and cautioned they must be given a  very clear remit and have powers to hold policy makers and commissioners to account.

The comments from Dorothy Jarvis Lee, CEO of ubu, follow the proposal from Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Associations, who has compiled a report in the aftermath of the Winterborne View scandal.

He said that any commissioner should have statutory duties to promote and protect the rights of vulnerable adults and their families.  The report which took almost five years to compile and followed extensive interviews with adults with learning difficulties, their families as well as commissioners and carers, said that instead of things having improved the landscape of care for vulnerable adults, it had got worse since Winterborne View.

But Dorothy who has worked with vulnerable adults for many years and has a proven professional track record of developing innovative clinical models of care said that any commissioner would fail if they did not have powers to hold politicians and commissioners to account.

“We at ubu welcome this proposal and the sentiment behind it, but for it to be effective there must be a commitment that the commissioner must remain independent and be able to hold the powers that be to account.

“Governments change and when they do policy towards vulnerable adult’s shifts and not always for the better.  Two years ago, the then government set a target that all people in high risk assessment centres should be moved into community care.  Not only has that not been achieved but the number of people housed in these institutions has increased,” she pointed out. 

“This demonstrates that where vulnerable adults are concerned, there must be continuity whoever is in government and a commitment to steer through progressive changes that will benefit everyone in society.

“ubu was involved in the wide ranging discussion about the future of care for vulnerable adults.  Many of the people we support told both Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing officer and Norman Lamb, then Care Minister, about the benefits of community based care as well as other ubu initiatives.  

“The people we serve clearly told both of them that their lives had been dramatically improved by living in community based support and urged them to give more vulnerable people the chance for a similar life.

“My big concern now is that while the report gained headlines it has quickly been forgotten, allowing even more vulnerable adults to become at risk,” added Mrs Jarvis-Lee.  The important thing is that there must be an agreement, that this is the way forward, a timetable for appointing the right individual, then the follow through to ensure that we do not lose the momentum this has attracted.

“Winterborne View was more than five years ago.  Since then the quality of care and life for many of those most at risk in society has got worse, not better.  We cannot afford to let another opportunity be lost, we must act now.”

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Will a commissioner for vulnerable adults make a difference?

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