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25 May 2019

Dignity in care: A response to Panorama’s ‘Undercover hospital abuse scandal’

Along with everyone who watched Wednesday night’s Panorama programme ‘Undercover hospital abuse scandal’ , Iain Ferns was horrified by the level of neglect and abuse documented.

As manager of Patrick Court in Northampton, Iain knows first-hand the positive impacts that can result from the right level of care and support, how lives can be transformed by increased independence and community integration:


“At Patrick Court we provide personal care, housing and support for adults with complex needs in their own homes. We promote independence and involvement in the community.

“The Panorama programme showed staff at a hospital for vulnerable adults intimidating, mocking and restraining patients with learning disabilities. Thankfully the behaviour shown in the programme is rare.

“This ‘psychological torture’ could not be further from the care and support we offer to the people who use our service.

“There is still stigma evident in society, where often there is a preference that those who are ‘different’ are hidden from view. Places like Patrick Court offer vulnerable adults an alternative to institutionalised care; we see the benefits that an independent way of living has on lives.

“We offer four flats and three bungalows. The individuals we support each have their own contracted tenancy, they each have their own self-contained home and front door. This is their home.

“At our latest inspection, the Care Quality Commissioner (CQC) awarded us an ‘outstanding’ rating. They recognised that we place individuals at the centre of everything we do. We provide choice and liberty, encouraging those who use our service to develop their skills and seek independence.

“We offer individual support packages, tailored to each person’s unique needs.

“This job does have its challenges. There is no denying that it is hard work, but the rewards are immense and I am always in awe of the dedication and level of care shown by our staff.

“We look to understand behaviours and their trigger points and work towards preventing behaviours from happening; prevention rather then reaction.

“It is all about looking at and understanding the individual. It is about quality of life. We all have a right to make our own choices. At Patrick Court each person is encouraged to live life as independently as they are able and would like to.

“One gentleman, who has been with us for two years is in his 50’s. Prior to coming to Patrick Court he had been in an institution almost his entire live. Now he has his own home, his own tenancy and his own garden. For the first time in his life he has a cooker and can make his own food. He can make a cup of tea, whenever he fancies one! Thanks to this new found independence and the support and dedication of our staff, this man’s life has been completely turned around. Whereas his, at times challenging behaviours in hospital, had resulted in 5-person restraints, at Patrick Court staff have learnt withdrawal and redirect techniques to prevent these behaviours from manifesting in the first place. Having his own personal space has been a vital factor in this positive change.

“People are at the very heart of what we are trying do here. Our staff are the ones who make all of this possible. They are here, tirelessly every day, Christmas, birthdays, 24 hours a day. They work long hours to ensure the people we support can live their absolute best life.

“That is the true meaning of care and support.”


NCHA offer a number of services for vulnerable adults. A full list can be found on our website