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.

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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.

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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