Hertfordshire bedtime audit

  •  PaulR
  •  31/01/2015
  •  News

Last year the Hertfordshire Community Learning Disability Service conducted a surprise bedtime audit of a variety of providers of residential services. I’ve not seen the report yet but they’ve been tweeting the headlines:


It’s fantastic that Herts are being so open about their findings and pretty sad to see that it seems quite normal for services to be winding down their operations at 8.30pm ready for the staff to clock off and go home. When you describe places like this they very much start to sound like places of work that are run in ways that suit the staff, which of course is totally wrong. They are somebody’s home and the people who live there should be the ones who are given the power to determine how they want the place run. (And why do we call these places ‘services’ when it’s not clear they are of service at all).

We’ve been preaching the same sermon it seems for years but if you don’t get the opportunity to get out in the evenings (and I think we can assume that not everyone involved in the audit had made the choice to be in) then you’re missing the opportunity to meet friends, make friends, be part of the community, see live music, and maybe even develop a relationship which leads to a sex life!

I understand from the audit that some people were also out so it’s not all bad news. However, this isn’t a picture which is particular to Hertfordshire and we get emails all the time from groups all over the country reporting that club nights and events are emptying at 9pm, a familiar site at our Kiss My Disco nights too. To me this demonstrates a systemic failure of support staff, and their managers, to understand what their role is in supporting people.

Last week we also received an email from a small self-advocacy group who were struggling to run events that didn’t peter out at 9pm and wanted support but also alerted us to the practice of a 6.30pm winter bedtime. To be honest, I had no idea that sort of thing happened and was truly shocked, and it again shows how staff can create oppressive institutions by wielding this sort of power.

So what’s the answer? Well here at Stay Up Late we’ve been concerned for some time that through the Heavy Load movie  and all our subsequent campaigning work we’ve done quite a good job of highlighting the issues of inflexible attitudes and restricted life opportunities, but to just moan about it doesn’t to me seem the responsible thing to do.

So we’ve been working to re-boot the Stay Up Late campaign to do just that, we’ll have more news in the coming months about exactly what we mean by that but we’ll be looking to create a networked group of people (that’s you!) all over the UK to share positive stories about great support, and people with learning disabilities living the lives they want, but also ways in which we can campaign to make real change happen too.

Stay tuned people – we will be doing more about this moving in to the spring.



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