Challenging poor practice, abusive practice and inadequate complaints procedures: a personal narrative

Date01 November 2004
Published date01 November 2004
AuthorMargaret Flynn
34 © Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Limited The Journal of Adult Protection Volume 6 Issue 3 • November 2004
Issues in relation to the regulation of independent sector
providers have heated up since the NHS and Community Care
Act 1990. The accompanying policy guidance (1990)
identified six ‘key objectives’ which included:
‘to promote the development of a flourishing independent
sector alongside good quality public services’
‘to clarify the responsibilities of agencies and so make it
easier to hold them to account for their performance…’
These objectives fail to engage with the fact that regulation
only works when service users and involved family caregivers
have the necessary knowledge to challenge harmful decision-
making. In spite of critiques of market-oriented approaches to
the supply, demand and delivery of service provision by such
bodies as the Social Services Inspectorate and the Audit
Commission, concern persists. Eleven years after the
publication of the policy guidance my professional interest in
the scrutiny and regulation of service provision became
coupled to personal interest in these issues when my brother
was admitted to a unit for people with learning disabilities and
mental health problems ‘for five to seven days’ in 2001. This
initial placement drifted into a stay of almost 12 months.
This paper outlines two linked stories I believe are worth
telling. The first hinges on how a man who had lived in his
Challenging poor practice,
abusive practice and
inadequate complaints
procedures: a personal
narrative Margaret Flynn
Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and
Midwifery, University of Sheffield
key words
challenging practice
personal perspective
complaints procedures
The impetus for this paper was
the Channel 5 documentary
Cares for Gary?
and the combined
efforts of the author,her family and
friends to challenge practice within
one of the units featured. The paper
describes a fundamentally disruptive
sequence of decisions and events in
the life of the author’s brother and
affirms that the consequences of
abuse and mechanisms to challenge
it go beyond individual suffering.
Policy and practice overview

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