When Nothing Else Works, Blame The Parents
Parent blaming should be an Olympic sport. I’m very surprised there isn’t a category in the annual glittering HSJ awards ceremony for the subject. Perhaps a “Most Innovative & Crushing Parent Blame” gong could be something for Southern Health to aim for this autumn. In the last couple of days, there have been a few stories emerging that shows that parent blaming is likely to get worse, the more that services won’t fulfil their statutory duties. What better way to shift the spotlight from the gaping hole in services on to the people asking for those non existent services.
I’ve documented many times how Hillingdon’s whole court case in 2010 was built around blaming me for Steven’s behaviour in the ATU. I did too much of this, not enough of that, and completely disregarded their plan to move Steven to Wales to understand his behaviour. And there was the infamous “There’s always something or other with Mr Neary” email after I complained about Steven’s clothes being ruined and the indignity of his trousers and shorts constantly falling down. No inward reflection. No responsibility. Lash out at the parent.
We also know that during LB’s time in Slade House, Sara Ryan was described as “toxic” by the responsible clinician and another psychiatrist threatened not to treat Connor due to their ego being pricked by Sara questioning the “assessment and treatment”. Then, during the Justice for LB campaign, Sara was described as “a fucking pest” by one of the board member’s sons. I was also present in court during the hearing for the heart-breaking moment when Sara was forced to confirm to her counsel that the family did want LB to come home. The Responsible Clinician’s barrister had made a big deal about the family not wanting LB home. The inquest was examining the causes of LB’s death and yet Southern Health felt it acceptable to cast horrid aspersions on the family to shift the spotlight.
Mrs Nicky Clark has been tweeting about the dreadful battle to find her daughter Emily a home as she is due to be made homeless from her residential college in a matter of days. The lack of accountability is shocking. Yesterday, Nicky tweeted that her partner, Phil, has been experiencing several angina attacks. Even worse, Emily’s anxiety levels are now so sky high with the uncertainty that she was restrained for 20 minutes. What was Shropshire Council’s response? They turned their attention on Nicky and complained that her blogging the story is “very disappointing to read”. No mention that their service is so shit that a young woman’s anxiety is dangerously high. No mention that their sole strategy to deal with the anxiety that they are causing is to administer prone restraint. No, let’s blame the mother for shining a light on the abysmal service.
One of the 7 Days of Action dudes was discharged a month ago. The Responsible Clinician refused to allow him to return to his family home, even though that is what both the dude and his family desperately want. Instead, he has been housed in a small self contained flat that is part of a complex of four. The shoddiness of the service showed up straight away. Over the first weekend, the dude discovered when he went to make a cup of tea after waking up at 5am that the electricity is turned off overnight. It has since been put down as a mistake, although other punishing measures like locking the kitchen cupboards are seen as the norm. What is increasingly disturbing is the number of phone calls that the mother receives from the dude every night, usually starting at 6pm and continuing until the next morning. The dude is frightened and anxious and is crying for reassurance. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of supported living can see what is happening here. A “night shift” is being redefined by the bean counters and in many places I’ve heard of starts at 6pm and lasts until 7am the next day. All residents in their night clothes by 5.30pm. Doors and cupboards locked from 6pm. One single solitary night shift worker sitting in an office with an alarm system primed to let them know if the residents start moving about. I don’t know about you, but I would be terrified in such a regime. Steven would experience a 12 hour meltdown of fear. Today, the dude’s mother tried to raise the matter with the new treating psychiatrist and was told that if she “continued to challenge this, the placement is likely to break down”. Imagine that. You’re at your wits ends and raising a safeguarding matter because the service cannot keep your son safe and then you’re told that it’s all your fault.
I guess we need to get used to this. As more services disappear. As more people are put in unsafe situations because the professionals have other things to do. As more people die because the professional attention is focused on parent blaming rather than providing decent care.
This is the present. It will get worse in the future.
From → Social Care