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Care Quality Commission identifies failings at Botton Camphill community

By Christian von Arnim

BOTTON VILLAGE/NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE (NNA) – The lack of proper procedures at the Botton village Camphill community, which cares for adults with disabilities, has been criticised in a routine review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the British government’s regulator for hospitals, care homes and care services in England.                    

In a report published at the end of November, the CQC came to the conclusion that while staff were caring and had empathy with the villagers, Botton was “not meeting one or more essential standards.” Improvements were needed, was the overall judgement of the review.

The CQC acknowledged the positive aspects of life at Botton: “People who live at Botton told us that they enjoy the freedom of being able to live in a community where they can move around without fear of being abused, or shouted at. Several people said they particularly enjoyed working on the farm, whilst another person said they had been able to slow down because of their age,” the report said.

But areas in which the CQC expressed its concerns included consent to care and treatment, where the Commission judged that “People who use the service are not enabled to make decisions about their own care and support and are not confident that their human rights are respected and taken in to account.”

Another area where there was found to be a lack of understanding was the issue of safeguarding from abuse and respect of human rights, where the Commission found that “Staff are not sufficiently aware of potential abuse issues or protection processes to provide the necessary support to ensure people's safety.”

Huw John, chief executive of the Camphill Village Trust (CVT), the umbrella organisation for Camphill communities in England and Scotland, emphasised that Botton and the CVT were keen to work with the CQC and the local authority, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), to make sure “that we will be fully compliant and still ensure that Botton retains many of the values and ways of life that make it special”.

“Throughout the investigations both NYCC and CQC have repeated that they do not want the community to close and that their objective is not to change the beliefs, traditions and way of life that is so important to Botton and the people who live within the community,” John said, “they do however demand that the model of care and support that exists within Botton is fully compliant and that everyone understands and signs up to the core fact that Botton and CVT is a registered social care provider first and foremost, and as such has no alternative but to work to the sector standards.”

“Both reports say that the community at present doesn’t demonstrate a strong understanding of its responsibilities as a social care provider, and that whilst it operates as a community, the way in which the needs of each villager are assessed, understood and supported need to be more individually focused,” John added.

The CVT chief executive stressed that while the CQC and NYCC were not wanting to “get rid” of the features like shared family living, co-workers instead of employees, the “farm work, gardening, jobs, roles and routines” and the “ethos” of Botton, it was about “ensuring that the way we support villagers and co-workers to live together is safe for everyone (co-worker and villager) and that the villager’s individual needs and choices are at the heart of all living arrangements which will mean different things for different people”. 

Referring to the damaging impact of “ill-informed” comment, John also described as “misguided” and “deeply damaging” an independent campaign to protect Botton village from the regulatory authorities. The Campaign for Real Care has accused the CQC of putting Botton under threat “from a regulatory system that does not properly understand its ethos, values or purpose”. The Campaign has sought pledges of support for Botton on its website.

“This misguided campaign has the potential to be deeply damaging at this time and co-workers in the Botton Village Management Group have stressed it is not an initiative of Botton Village and it is not something the Camphill Village Trust was consulted about,” John said, distancing Botton and the CVT from the Campaign for Real Care.

“There needs to be a constructive response or the survival of Botton and the reputation of the Camphill Movement as a whole will be at significant risk,” the CVT chief executive concluded.


Item: 111223-01EN Date: 23 December 2011

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