The Social History of Learning Disability Conference: ‘Avoiding more Winterbourne Views: What can we learn from history? was held at the Open University at Milton Keynes on 8 July 2013. The conference was dedicated to the memory of Mabel Cooper, 1944-2013.
The keynote speech What has Winterbourne View Hospital taught us? was given by Margaret Flynn, author of the Serious Case Review into Winterbourne View. She talked about the appalling situation that occurred which resulted in the BBC Panorama programme in 2011, the company which owned the hospital, the physical remoteness of the hospital in a business park outside Bristol and the lack of vision on behalf of the management. Also how repeated whistleblowing and the CQC had failed to address concerns. It was also noted that the state system is too fragile to rely on when it comes to monitoring institutions and that there is a need to ensure the safety of people with learning disabilities by other means.
‘I don’t need to be angry any more’ Professor Bjørn-Eirik Johnsen, Assistant Professor Leif S Lysvik, and Associate Professor Terje Thomsen of the Department of Health and Social Science, Harstad University College, Norway. This talk considered long stay hospitals in Norway and how moving staff from one large institution to smaller homes does not improve care if this comes without appropriate training and a change in thinking. There is a need to invest in staff development.
‘Citizen Advocacy is a way to make a positive difference’ Barbara Perry, Citizen Advocate and Julie, Advocacy Partner. This talk discussed Brockhall Hospital in Lancashire and social devaluation. It also noted the work of Dr Wolf Wolfensberger who led the way in citizen advocacy in the US in 1970.
‘Belonging in a community’ Kelley Johnson, University of Bristol, Rob Hopkins and Jo McGrath, Clare Inclusive Research Group, Ireland. This talk was about the idea of Belonging and what this meant. How belonging and inclusion were not the same. Belonging being a combination of place, other people, family, friends, work and connections and how this could provide could provide some degree of protection and quality of life.
Remembering Mabel Cooper. Jane Abraham, Dorothy Atkinson and Gloria Ferris.
‘Preventing another Winterbourne View – the perspective from older family carers’ Oxfordshire Family Support Network
‘Learning disabilities and abuse: Learning the lessons from history’ Rachel Fyson, University of Nottingham. Considered the history of long stay hospitals including Ely Hospital in Cardiff, Budock Hospital in Cornwall and Orchard Hill Hospital in Sutton.
Looking ahead to a better future Sue Dumbleton, The Open University in Scotland,
Lyn Dumbleton and Jan Walmsley, Visiting Chair, The Open University
What would a new way of caring and living look like? What is the vision? Who should be leading this change?
2.30pm Talk: Finding Ivy: From Belonging and alienation and back again
Speakers: Helen Atherton and Florian Schwanninger
The story of one victim of the Aktion T4 programme. Ivy was born in the UK and in 1930 went to live in an institution in Vienna. In the summer of 1940 she was killed at Hartheim castle near Linz. Different historical material has been used to tell Ivy’s story including photographs, church records, census reports and newspapers.
3.30pm Aktion T4: A documentary film
The Aktion T4 Nazi Euthanasia programme was responsible for the murder of approximately 275,000 people with learning disabilities.
In this 30 minute documentary film, Berge Kanikanian who has Down’s syndrome, travels to Poland and Germany to visit the sites of euthanasia centres and speaks to researchers and historians.
Please note this talk and film is not suitable for anyone under 16 years of age.