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Parent Blaming

October 8, 2015

I wasn’t going to write about LB’s Inquest until it finishes. But yesterday’s recording triggered off such painful memories from my time in court, I wanted to set some thoughts down here.

The Ministry of Justice continually states that an Inquest is a non adversarial process. They usually trot out this line to justify not awarding legal aid to the families of the bereaved. So if an Inquest is non adversarial, what place is there for parent blaming?

Yesterday, one of the witnesses was asked if she was “scared” of Dr Sara Ryan. The witness said “no” but the reply was almost irrelevant. The aim was to paint a negative picture of Connor’s mother. There are 8 legal counsel present and only 1 representing the family. That’s seven opportunities to attack the family. The attacks had started the day before. Connor was “difficult” to build a relationship with. Patient difficult, Mother scary.

At our hearing, the Hillingdon barrister seemed obsessed with intimidation. One of his first questions to me was, “Are you intimidated by Steven?” My spontaneous, incredulous reply of “Intimidated!?” (Imagine Lady Bracknell saying “A Handbag”) should have put an end to it but he persisted for a horrible 15 minutes. Then, with all the other witnesses, especially Steven’s two support workers, he switched his questioning to, ” are you intimidated by Mr Neary?” Although everyone said “no”, he had set something up.

As a line of attack, it is psychology unsound. She is feeling intimidated. Ergo, you are intimidating. It’s nonsense. The reason you may be feeling intimidated may actually lie in you. Sorry to namedrop but last year I was introduced to Sir James Munby. I felt buttock clenchingly intimidated. Sir James couldn’t have been nicer. My intimidation had nothing to do with him. It was all my stuff around class, education, power etc.

In the bearpit of Oxford Coroner’s Court, it’s too much to expect people to ” own your shit”. That’s not the point of parent blaming. And patient blaming.

In the non adversarial process, even though a young man died whilst in State care, it is seen as acceptable for the State to attack the dead man’s family. It is just collateral damage as the NHS Trust attempts to protect its reputation. And it’s future earning power.

Mr Gove?


From → Social Care

  1. nic permalink

    careful boss, better light a candle and sit tight on this. Associated blogs and jurors, the knives are out tread carefully.

  2. Sally permalink

    “Are you intimidated by-”
    What a loaded question!! Were they suggesting your son or both were terrifying characters ,so that justified any extreme measures they had taken or at least invalidated. your complaint.
    OK so you deny being intimidated by Steven despite grilling. Well then, perhaps it’s you. ,Good God.
    (Incidentally, lets imagine you were an intimidating person, as frightening as Stalin or Pol Pot. So what?? How was that relevant to the issue at hand?
    At the very least the question is manipulative. It’s designed to make the parent go onto the back foot, indignant, insulted, unexpectedly under attack.
    You are right. It is their own shit, If that really was what they felt rather then a Barrister’s ploy. If they felt like that they were making a whole bunch of assumptions which might affect how they treat you or Steven so that was for them as grown ups to sort out with their supervisor or draw on their inner resources.

  3. Nichola permalink

    You got it in a nutshell, Mark. LB died while in state care. What relevance does asking witnesses if they are intimidated by LB’s mother have? These strategies used by the state’s apologists are themeselves intimidating – and profoundly immoral.

  4. Throughout the horror, of the parent of autistic child’s existence, lies, a massive inequality of power.

    Parents are continuously bullied.

    It is an authority modus.

    Intimidated by social workers, GPs, ‘experts’, care workers, teachers, managers, official solicitors, barristers, judges, DWP.

    All acting in unison, within their own procedures, unknown to parents, and behind the parents backs.

    Can the parent complain of this intimidation?


    They can’t even complain, about being lied about, behind their backs, and, described as intimidating, impossible to work, or, communicate with.

    And, blamed for everything.

    Now, that’s what I call real intimidation.

  5. Trudy permalink

    At present I am intimidated by my sons principal support worker.

    He is rude to me on the phone, and his agency changes my sons weekly support times and dates to fit their staffing, for example if support worker is on AL etc my son find he is removed from day centre to do shopping etc. Although he has free days in the week no attempt is made to fit other occasional appointments, including health etc, into these free days. The agency just takes time out of day care. Personal care workers turn up too late to do any personal care on day centre days, so son goes to centre smelly. My son tells me he is happy to have any of the support workers when his main worker is on AL etc. But nothing changes.

    If I ring agency I can hear tone of’ it is…….’s mum again. And I dread doing this, I avoid it if I can for ………nothing changes.

    My son pays huge charges to LA out of benefits for his support and day care.

    But when asked by others son says he is happy with all, and ‘they’ say it is his choice.

    I know rings are being run round me and he is being manipulated, but I have no power at all. The last main support worker was appalling, could have killed him. So this one is better. So if I push it change may be to even worse?

    The LA has cut staff to point no monitoring is/can be done, and the last thing they want is feedback on anything. Phone calls and emails are disregarded or take weeks to be answered. But nothing changes for the better.

  6. Cathy H. permalink

    My heart goes out this week, to LB’s family.
    They face a very difficult, emotional two Weeks.
    I wish them strength to attend things I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.
    Enter THEM who will blame anyone, to deflect trouble upon themselves.
    Will anything be admitted. Will anything be fixed.
    I dont think it will. Instead, I have a feeling the parents will exit, battered and bruised and heartbroken, and with nothing resolved.
    I sincerely hope im wrong.

  7. Shirley Buckley permalink

    If you read Mr Justice Charles judgments, you will see that I was treated as a criminal during the Court process, and in fact had a penal notice put on me. I have been accused of abuse three times, and have a letter from my son’s home manager accusing me of financial abuse and threatening to call the police. We all know this is how it works. The parents (especially the mother) are the weakest in the hierarchy, owing to their relationship with their son and daughter. The Court, again and again, threatens stopping contact with one,s child. Mr Justice Charles has however now decided that the parents can represent P under section 6. We need to bring a joint action as parents of sons and daughters with disabilities.

  8. Sally permalink

    I think a lot of the time it’s just a ploy. It distracts everybody from further investigating the facts , it makes you look aggressive or shifty.Just being asked the question is damaging . Like being asked if you are a thief.
    Being forced to deny a lie makes you feel as if ,somehow ,the lie is stuck to you.
    A big shock for me was how very ,very easy it is to be seen as difficult, pushy and aggressive by services involved with my disabled person.This is a shock if like most of us,you have always got on well with others.As soon as you pursue a matter or fail to meekly accept whatever is on offer, no matter how polite you are you are represented as trouble.
    I often ask service workers who are reproving me for sounding irate: given the circumstances exactly how do you think I should be feeling and behaving? Why do you think is the right way for me too feel and behave right now? The answers are hilarious.

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      Sally have you ever been told ‘that you cannot always have what you want in this life’ . I was told that when I was in a distressed state and pleading for respite. Who is the intimidator?

      • Sally permalink

        What a comment! No, I didn’t have that one but when very distressed when also pleading for respite was told two things:
        1.”If you are distressed you should seek counselling through your GP. ” (Ignoring the fact that I was distressed because of no respite and also how the heck I would get to a counselling session given I had no respite)
        2. ” I am sorry you find it so hard to understand this decision “(My reply was that I understood it-I had been speaking English for simply ages-the point was I didn’t agree with it.!)
        In the early days of this I rember feeling very hurt when I would call up, timidly, to ask for something, perhaps just to follow something up, and there would be a long pause and a quite audible sigh on the other end. Or when you are described as “forceful “or “having trouble accepting-”
        I don’t think any of us glory in being presented as aggressive, unreasonable etc, it’s horrible.

      • Trudy permalink

        Pauline, we all learned that harsh lesson when our sons and daughters were diagnosed?
        Intimidation, insensitivity and crass stupidity.

    • Its definitely a lose lose situation.

      There is no accountability, for any service care, or, professional.

      As you have no contract with a care service provider, as they are paid by the local authority, and either obtained by them, or, approved by them.

      The NHS GP, psychologist etc is the same legal position.

      The insurance provision, in the USA is much better. You pay a premium, and it covers services.

      The services know they will be sued, if their is a claim by an insurance company.

      That is why all the damage from Risperidol etc, has been exposed there but not here.

      This insurance based system, allows autonomy, and, therefore rights, protection for the disabled and their parents.

      Here, the system encourages,requires, and allows, the parent to be the enemy.

      Parents, are discussed in secret, and, deliberate unjustified, character assassinations are written into official documents, if you do manage to see them, they are not changed, just your points noted.

      You, and your child/adult, are whatever the state want you to be, and, have the medical/mental conditions, they need them to have, to fit the state/LA’s cabal’s agenda.

      All act, to protect their own agenda, and interests.

      Which is to impose whatever policy the government wants, at the moment to make, as much private profit, as possible, out of your disabled child/adult.

      Any decent care worker, who actually acts on the facts, ie parent not obstructive/ difficult, adult not abused, is removed, and/or threatened with never working in social care again.

      The good ones, are getting out, particularly, of domiciliary care.

      As all is prescribed, and, strictly controlled, against the parent.

      Parents are a nuisance, who have no rights, nor, do the disabled, and, so must be marginalised.

      This allows poor service, abuse, gross slander, breach of human rights, and often removal of adult/child from parents, who then, at most,get supervised access, allowing even more criticism to be recorded.

      All for maximum control, and most efficient profitable care of the disabled.

      Any signs of, well justified frustration, or annoyance, is construed, as being difficult, and even as signs of ‘fragile mental health’.

      When your pleas/questions are met with silence by carers, SS etc, and, you ask why they are silent, they reply, as if you are mentally unstable, I didn’t want to upset you, as everything I say seems to…..

      Its called bullying, and oppression.

      Again, in breach of human rights.

      • Sally permalink

        Ah-look, under an insurance based system such as in America there is some assistance for those who can pay. If you can’t, or can’t any more, or your condition isn’t covered you get nothing. Remember, the people under discussion almost certainly can’t earn anything, so the disabled depend on their parents insurance deals.
        So no thanks.

      • Yes, but this is the model the care must be based on, to ensure autonomy, and protection.

        The government should be forced to pay the premiums for all.

        There is plenty of money for this, and a right to it, under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Act 1970.

        This provides up to 200, 000 can be claimed from NHS, LA and education, that is how residential placements/schools/ supported/ independent living, are financed.

        But now, instead of family support, proper medical attention, and education, this money is going to secret,private often venture capital care for profit basic care, rather to the disabled and their families.

        3 a day learning disabled/autistic, are dying due, to inadequate care despite all this money, and no parent can sue anyone, because of the system, for all the state’s abuse. So the system will remain abusive and unaccountable.

        74% of autistics are on respiridol or similar, unlike US, as they cannot sue manufacturer for death and side effects.

        78% of all 18 and over are now removed from parents, often against the wishes of both disabled and parents.

        We are all being ripped off and conned, and doing nothing about it, and our children are suffering and dying.

      • Finola – “78% of all 18 and over are removed from their parents”. Where did you get that figure from? Can you give the source?

  9. lisa permalink

    I am a bit relieved that this has been highlighted. Re Sallys comment ‘This is a shock if like most of us,you have always got on well with others’. Also Pauline being told ‘that you cannot always have what you want in this life’ !!
    Id always leave meetings wondering ‘is it me’? Yea right now, it is’.

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      Actually Lisa to be fair to my son’s care manager, she is trying her best to get my son sorted. No day centre available! It was a person who works on the same floor as the care management team who made that remark to me. She must have been privy to all the information on that fateful afternoon when we were desperate for help. It seems that anybody and everybody have an opinion on what is best for us. I feel like they had a great big gossip fest and it feels hurtful to know that they can do this.

      At this moment I am typing this reply to you in my bedroom on a saturday night and I can hear my son roaring downstairs. Hallucinating about his bedroom, not wanting to sleep in his bed and just being so anxious and distressed. My husband is trying to calm him. We will have yet another night of broken sleep, and I am only too aware that I cannot everything I want in life. Not even a good nights sleep.

      • Trudy permalink

        Pauline your son has an assessed need to attend a day centre. This assessment places a duty on LA and a clear need LA should be delivering. If your neighbours house was on fire would they be expected to put own fire out because LA had done away with fire service? Would LA get away with this? Equally when road is potholed would council get away with telling people to just go get a pick and shovel?….LA get away with passing on the job of providing day care etc to us, because we are a small minority and they know we have no choice but to get on with it.

        The care manager should put her shoulder to this issue on your behalf. ‘ Sorry we don’t have a day centre’ is the wrong answer.

      • In Sheffield, as I assume most of the country, day centres, are closing and/or being made adjunts to supported living units.

        Respite overnight, is also not available, unless you have carers in your home, see my blog post Respite and the Secret Social Worker.

        All is cut to the bone on this provision, as the main adult services provision, despite it costing, on average 3500 per week, is independent away from family living.

        The less support/facilities available to an adult in his family home, the more a court of protection, can and does, find, it is in his best interests to be removed, to institutional care, even if this is not what the parents, or adult disabled/autistic/leaning disabled want.

  10. Lisa permalink

    Hey Pauline I totally understand. My son is downstairs ranting and pacing, repeating phrases over and over again, ‘ no more mencap’ ‘thats shut’,’ fucking mencap’ ( my fault for blurting that one out once) , im just hoping the sleeping pill kicks in and gives him a bit of relief. Happy days ay x

  11. I think LAs get training in ‘how to portray a parent with complaints as unhinged, aggressive, scary and unreasonable’. The training is most likely provided by the legal teams, who receive it from barristers, whose sole aim is to ‘win’ for their client. It’s happened to me and mud sticks. They make me sick.

    • Sally permalink

      Agree-and they also get training in condescension. (“You are clearly too silly or greedy or mad to understand what is going on. I will explain again”.)
      All my son’s DCT benefits and activities were stopped after a long assessment of over 6 hours total six months ago. The cuts weren’t mentioned in the outcome letter, indeed reading it, it sounded like we were getting extra help-X hours of “support a month”. (What this would consist of was not specified.) Oh, and another assessment to “get to know your son and understand his needs”. And six weekly reassessments after that. I suppose in case his autism and intellectual disabilities were cured.
      Well, six months in I am calling and emailing asking what is going on…surely after all these assessments they have a picture(which I bet is drivel) and can offer him something? The familiar hectoring lecturing condescending tone is back) in thier responses.”I will let you know when I have decided what to give …getting to know your son and understand his needs will take time…as I have explained to you many times…” Six months.
      It really rankles because I have tried so very hard to be reasonable, friendly not demanding.

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