From Bromley to Devon via Stoke

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I am writing on behalf of my son Robert who is currently being held under a DOLS at Ashley House in Stoke on Trent.

Robert is a 28 year old young man with severe learning disabilities and autism. His needs are complex and he requires specialist care.

We found Robert a lovely residential home which was perfect for him when he was 18. Unfortunately it was in Dorset, a long trek for us to visit so seeing him regularly was restricted but overshadowed by the fact that he was so well placed there.

Unfortunately the family run home was taken over by ACH homes (now in partnership with Regard group) and too many changes took place. Staff left, routines changed and it became less and less of a home and more and more like a business.

The last 2 years Robert became depressed and very anxious and naturally his way of expressing this was through lashing out. More and more restrictions were put on Robert as he was considered a risk to himself and others.

It was a catch 22, the more restrictions applied, the more frustrated and anxious Robert got until it all came to a head.  Robert attacked his key worker and the police and ambulance services were called and Robert was sectioned and taken to a high security psychiatric hospital in Poole.

What I thought would be an overnight stay turned into weeks as he was made officially homeless.


The hospital was a terrifying place for him. He was in an awful state and again lashed out and attacked members of staff.

Despite the hospital desperately trying to liaise with Bromley to get Robert out and homed asap, Bromley failed to offer any alternative. The situation became desperate for the safety everyone so staff took it upon themselves to move Robert to another hospital in Stoke on Trent.

Robert has now been there over a year. Despite endless meetings with Bromley social services and staff at Stoke, Bromley are still failing to provide the care and permanent home for him.

We had an offer from the Burgess Autistic Trust after they had done an extensive assessment on Robert, but Bromley would not entertain the idea as they were too expensive. This home would’ve been ideal for Robert, and it was only 2 miles from my door! He needs his family. He has been deprived of regular contact with us all for over 10 years and now a further 15 months.

Bromley seem to find it acceptable to be getting care homes as far as Devon, to be assessing Robert for potential placements when all his family are in Bromley Kent!

He is over 200 miles away from us, and every visit so far has been a 9 hour round trip  ( taking traffic into consideration ) How is this acceptable?? Robert craves to be near his family and his life would benefit from regular contact.

With little knowledge of how to fight this appalling situation we have started a petition in hope of being heard.

Something has to be done. My son is being kept in a psychiatric hospital for having special needs and being homeless.


Bromley council should be ashamed of themselves. They have offered me no support and have only been good at keeping me in the dark.  My only contact with them is via Tony Hunt (senior care manager) and communication is often frustrating. He is often hard to get hold of, and just tells me that they are doing all they can, which is what exactly??

I made an official complaint to head of social services and in response (several weeks later) i received a generic letter of apology but not specific to my case. I have contacted the media and the local paper have published an article this week.

My only comfort is that i know Robert is safe and happy. The staff are great with him and he slowly returned to his ‘old self’.  But, it is a hospital.  He needs a home and his family.

I have now, once again with the help of the support group, found a lovely place for Robert to live. It is only 20 miles from our home & perfect for his needs.

The provider’s have completed an assessment on Robert and have offered him a place.

Are we delighted with this news? Well, my LA have announced that the place is a “contender” but not to get my hopes up as they have to consider other options. Other options such as……? There are no other contenders, besides their Devon preference. No other offers, unless they are keeping something from me. In any case, it’s the place where Robert wants to go.

I don’t understand why, when the hospital wants to discharge Robert, why are the LA not pushing this forward? It makes no sense other than saving money.

How is this for irony? The hospital staff have signed and supported Robert’s petition! That is how much they believe he shouldn’t be in the ATU.

Please help me get my son home


The Iron Gate

Here’s Stephen Andrade’s story, written by his mother, Leo.


Just before he was 16, Stephen went to a residential school in Norfolk. Two years. It did not work as it did not have the services to provide for Stephen’s needs.

After two years, a multi disciplinary team comprising the doctors, the school and  Islington social services decided Stephen should go to the dreadful hospital St. Andrews. In Northampton. He was there two years. Steven became withdrawn and became a shell of the boy that we knew and love.

Then after much campaigning he was moved to a lower secure hospital in Clacton on sea, Colchester.

He has been at the Clacton Unit for almost 15 months. It was only meant to be a short term measure for assessment.

Here is a film  I took on my camera last year when I took Stephen’s younger brother to visit him at the Unit. he wasn’t allowed into the Unit and Stephen wasn’t allowed out. They hadn’t seen each other for two years.

There is no sign of Stephen returning back home.

Since he’s been at Clacton and being held there under the mental health act , it has been added one more year to his detention. The mental health section ends this June. I fear it will just be extended, probably for another year? In the meetings about Stephen, discharge is never discussed.

Stephen is having daily incidents and self harming head injuries.
Currently I am trying to get the medical team at the Unit to look into Stephen’s head where there’s this huge bump with skin. I fear it could be a haematoma. They say it’s not.


I fear for my son’s life. No exaggerating

And I see no turning back time.

I wish I have never agreed to send my son away in the first place. Not just to St. Andrews to begin with but to the residential school also. Because if I had not, my beautiful smiley boy would be here at home and he would not have changed from a beautiful handsome happy smiley boy to one with very sad empty eyes that he is today.

It’s as if he has lost his soul.


Stephen’s story was going to end there but Leo reported that in the past week things have taken another sinister turn. Unable to get anywhere with the Responsible Clinician, Leo made contact with the respected psychologist, PC and the plan was for Dr C to carry out an assessment on Stephen, a second opinion.

Here’s the email Leo received from the hospital:

Dear Leo,

Further to discussions with Dr D I need to advise that we are unable to provide access to any records or have discussions with Dr C in relation to your son.  All patients are protected by the Data Protection Act and clinical discussions can only be held with professionals and family/carers who are directly involved in his care.  I would therefore request that your request for Dr C’s involvement is re-directed to the CCG (Islington), who will then be able to ascertain the need, if any, for her involvement and in what professional capacity.  Once this has been established, Islington will need to forward us their request for her involvement and reasons why to justify any professional discussions to take place.

As per Tom’s email below, it is evident that the local team have worked hard in trying to find a suitable placement for S and there have been several assessments conducted at the Unit.  It is hoped that a suitable provider will be found in the near future to ensure a safe and sustainable discharge from the Unit.

I hope this helps clarify your request

We’ll end with Leo’s own words:

So I did call CCG.  They told me to call social services.

Why?  Why do these people hide behind the MHA and data protection ?

Surely as my son’s mother I have the right to get him help?

What are they so afraid of?
Why can’t they be open, and say we have nothing to hide?

Why use data protection , to stop me helping my son?
It’s my son’s human rights to have a second or third or whatever many options we wish. If Dr C can help my son why not let her ?

My son ‘s human rights are violated every day. And where is that data protection then?

Where is his protection when an alleged carer kicked him on his lower back?

Where is his data protection when he has gone to general hospital dozens of times with head injuries?

So I ask myself who is this data protection actually protecting ?
It is certainly not my son.

Is it wrong of me, to want to get my child the best care possible?