I want to talk about Olga Freeman, I’m not sure if some of you will have already heard about Olga as she has been in the papers over the months, after she committed an atrocious act and murdered her autistic son after her support was taken away during the pandemic. I do not want to discuss the murder, but I want to discuss her mental health during this pandemic and not just hers but all of ours.
I cannot understand how anyone can do something so heinous, but I can understand the feelings she may have had during this pandemic and I think any parent of a child with special needs can too, in fact any parent at all…
That overwhelming sense of slowly drowning; of not knowing how you could possibly keep your head above water but in many parents’ cases we know we must, so most of us learn how to swim no matter the waters.
Lockdown has been hard for many parents, but I speak from experience when I say that it has been exceptionally hard for those with special needs kids, support was completely stripped, nurseries and schools were closed, activities and respite were stopped, appointments postponed so many times they became a mere memory and people were restricted from seeing loved ones who act as a huge support network.
I am incredibly lucky that when I became a single parent back in October, the support came in strong from unexpected places. I was suddenly in need of a support bubble and it came in the shape of my neighbours who have massively stepped up for me in a way most would not have. It came in phone calls from friends just checking to see if we needed anything and were ok. It came in doorstep drop offs from family members.
Olga did not have that, what she did have were doctors agreeing that she needed more support but the local authority failing to provide it… She knew she was struggling and actively sought help in the month prior to killing her son. I speak for many parents now when I say that local authorities are notoriously slow at providing support, if any…
Olga suffered a severe mental breakdown which led her to take the life of her son. I suppose my point of this post is to implore you all to check on your neighbours, friends and family who may be struggling but hiding it well. I’m not saying that everyone is capable of such a horrendous act, but everyone is capable of reaching breaking point.
Today was the day in which I should have had an update about Williams EHCP, I should have been able to figure out what the next steps are going to be for Williams education and find out if that slim chance of a special school allocation was within our grasp.
However today was not that day. No days are the days they should be and I an beginning to learn this… I need to prepare myself for these things as they happen all the time and yet continue to knock me for six. As parents we shouldn’t be continuously let down by those who are supposed to support our children and adhere to timescales laid out by themselves.
The EHCP has not gone to the moderators… Still! This is because the medical report needed and the Speech and language report have still not been received. These should have been submitted by 15th of February and its now 4th March 🙄😡
So now we are back in the waiting game… Next week or the one after. Who even knows?!
I don’t even know where to start! I don’t even know where to begin this post other than saying everything is fucked!
Yesterday was the legal deadline for allocations for special school, I had waited for what felt like an eternity already, the night before I barely slept and for the full day I felt sick and emotional… I chased them at 2pm to be told my caseworker would be calling me back once the allocations were ready. By 4:30 I was beside myself and asked Williams dad to chase as I didn’t want to keep pestering them (always a nice person and doesn’t get me anywhere!) Shocking horror! Our caseworker is on annual leave! Who the fuck takes annual leave at such a pivotal time in their office… Mark does! That’s who!
5:30 roles around and Elaine calls me….
William wasn’t on the list of allocations!
What? That cant be right… we were assured he was on the list. Elaine explains that as he doesn’t have an EHCP in place he would never have been on the list but we were told it didn’t matter. I pushed for months to get the process started earlier but due to Covid was told it wasn’t possible. I questioned if it would be an issue to be told it would not… ALL FUCKING LIES!
To say I wasn’t angry and devastated last night would be a huge understatement; I cried uncontrollably for about 3 hours, ranted at Williams dad, my mom and friends and smashed up some old furniture before taking the dog on what I can only describe as a walk in which I felt like I needed to punish the pavement. I needed to get out the feelings of despair so that I could face today as super mom because yesterday I felt exhausted… I felt too tired of all this hard work to get shit on, too tired of fighting to get what is best (but then I have always been a melodramatic kind of girl 🤣
I had to wait until today to speak to our senco; Lisa. She found out yesterday that William wasn’t discussed at applications and apparently had a meeting with her line manager and the head of the Hull SEND team Caroline Scott to discuss Williams options. It would have been fucking amazing if they could have called me first so I didn’t spend a full day waiting on something that wasn’t even going to happen!
His EHCP will be confirmed 3rd of March and there is an exceptionally slim chance they may allocate him a special school during that process but I am not holding my breath as I don’t think I believe a word of it anymore.
I have a meeting on 4th March to discuss this other meeting 🙄 and it looks like our options will be the following…
* Keep him in nursery until the term after he turns five – although he gets funding for nursery it still costs me a lot of money each month for his 2 days and paying full costs for 3 additional days is financially out of the question.
* Home school – we both work which would make this difficult but not impossible however it is the interaction he will miss out on which will not help him develop his communication skills.
* Mainstream with a watertight EHCP – I never wanted mainstream as the environment isn’t right for William and his mental health but this may be our only option until special school allocations next year. I would be able to name a set school on his EHCP and I have done research however I just don’t know if this is best.
I will keep you posted on any further developments.
As a parent this is something, we always ask ourselves until our child reaches an age in which their own decisions can be trusted. As a parent of a child with special needs not only do you question your choices but you over analyse every decision you are forced to make but what do you do when that spills out into your own life? When the simplest of decisions can be agonising because you try to predict every possible outcome which proves impossible and life just becomes too overwhelming. When every decision comes back to haunt you?
The pressures of being a single parent to child with additional needs is immense, every choice reflects upon your child from simple things like buying a different brand of chicken nuggets by mistake or choosing the wrong school. They both seem like such opposite ends of the scale, but both have a massive impact on Williams life and the responsibility of chicken nuggets is a big one on its own without the other factors.
What if they stop making his chicken nuggets, when is the right time to introduce new chicken nuggets? I am aware it sounds crazy, but I need to think of these things and try to find a solution before they happen.
Sometimes things do happen in which there was no way you could plan ahead for. Somethings happen and take you so much by surprise that you do not know how you will recover or if you ever will but in some circumstances you thrive.
How do you deal with those situations? I feel like I have become more guarded. I feel like I have to step up and become super mom, I feel like there is a constant battle to ensure William has the best support, the best family, the right environment and so on… I don’t know if that’s a natural part of being a parent, a single parent or a special needs parent but it’s exhausting. I am exhausted! It so hard to maintain a good balance between being mommy and being Marie and I feel like I am losing myself. It sounds daft because you don’t get a break from being a parent, it’s not a job; it’s a privilege. You don’t get sick days no matter how poorly you are or how much pain you are in, being a parent is just who you are on a fundamental level. With this pandemic its difficult to find the time to stop and take a breath. It’s not as if William can go to his Nanna and Grandad’s so that I can…🥁… have a nap. (not very rock and roll of me I know) It’s those kinds of things that I think we all took for granted, I don’t think any of us really appreciated how much we benefited from the everyday interactions we had with our family and friends.
It’s a strange time for everyone at the moment, no one wanted another national lockdown, but it was inevitable, and I do believe it’s for the best. I thought that after the new year I could get a little bit of my life back and can start having one but that will have to wait.
The problem with being alone is it gives you time to think and over analyse things such as school!! All the applications are in, the EHCP is in process and now I can only sit and wait and that is the bit I can’t cope with. The decision on special schools is usually made by the end of January so I should hear something no later than the middle of February but I’m now worried that they may be running behind on it because of Covid and I don’t think I can take it; the wait is already driving me crazy. If I go for worst case scenario which is middle of February, then its 35 days to wait. 35 days of freaking out about if he is going to get a place he so desperately needs and if he doesn’t, it’s even further away until the middle of April for mainstream allocations. I want to be optimistic, his EHCP is 90 pages long, his issues are profound and complex, and all parties involved have agreed it would be the best place for him but what if it just doesn’t happen? I have a whole new scenario to stress about. For someone who has lists about lists its really difficult to be able to plan for events you have no control over.
On a positive note, I have finished my level 2 in autism understanding and am awaiting my tutor to confirm if she passes the second module. I do feel confident about it to be honest and really enjoyed doing it, once my pass certificate arrives, I think I may do more, I have already scoped out two further courses; level 2 in challenging behaviour and a level 2 in learning difficulties, I think they will both come in handy for when I pick up some volunteer work when William starts school.
William is doing really well in his development; his eye contact has improved drastically, and he is getting very good at object exchange to show me what he wants. He even takes his own pots into the kitchen and only throw them about 10% of the time 😂 I know it doesn’t seem like a lot but to me it is amazing. To me a few seconds of eye contact can bring tears to my eyes.
We did have a few bad nights recently as William had some bowel issues 💩, he ended up in my bed for over three hours crying and needing me to rub his tummy. I wish I could take his issues away and make him feel better when he’s in pain.
I’m so grateful that nursery is still open during this lockdown as I am not sure how I would be able to work and look after him as he needs constant supervision. My head tells me that I should have made the decision to keep him off to protect us from potential contact with Covid but the disruption of his routine would also be hard on him and he has had enough of that recently. If possible I want things to remain normal for him.
We have lots of messy play planned for lockdown which I’m really excited about but may regret deeply 😂 We tried out slime in the bathtub which was super fun messy but totally worth it to see Williams face, not so much the having to clean the tub part.
Next on the list is finger painting so wish my upholstery good luck 🍀
Forgive the horrendous pun 🙏🏻 but I couldn’t resist.
What can I say about Christmas 2020? What can I say about 2020 in general that hasn’t already been said be everyone? I think this year I had more understanding of what William could and couldn’t handle at Christmas which made it easier for me to make sure he wasn’t overwhelmed.
Each christmas eve I have alway reads William ‘Santa comes to Hull’ I’m not sure why I made it a tradition as it wasn’t one I had as a child but I felt it made it a little special knowing he was on his way. This year William grabbed the book from me and and decided to show me it before I read it… Maybe one day he can read it to me 🥰
I’ve been poorly recently with a mega cold 😷 (100% NOTcovid as I had a test) and an injured scapula so the preparations for christmas have been hard physically on top of the usual picking up and carrying William and then the emotional toll of it being my first Christmas alone as a single mom which… If I do say so myself I totally bossed it 💪🏼
Every year without fail we all have always had christmas dinner at my mom and dads house. Christmas isn’t christmas without my mom yelling at my dad to get out of the kitchen or telling us there isn’t room for all of us in the small room, my niece eating more than her share of after eights and my dad hovering round with a bin bag asking if anyone can take it home 🤣 and even more so… it isn’t christmas without big nan. The first lockdown kept us apart for 113 days… so far on this teir 3 we are at 66 days and counting. Thats almost half a year! 😲 I know the rules for christmas day were relaxed but it wasn’t fair to potentially put anyone at risk with William going to nursery, his dad visiting him but working, my sister working and my niece at school… we all felt we would rather we were all here next year to celebrate properly (I’ve also told my mom she has to cook christmas dinner for us all once its safe to do so even if it is summer 🦃 BBQ turkey will not be accepted)
William came down christmas morning and started playing with some of his toys and opening some gifts at his own pace. When this got too overwhelming for him, he retreated upstairs and laid on his bed floor for a little bit until it was time to leave the house. My sister thankfully allowed William and I to go for dinner (the covid test probably helped in that decision😂)
Before I had William I hated Christmas and as William doesn’t usually cope with the festivities I was getting this way again but this year I realised I love it, I love the opportunity to see all our family whilst we aren’t working, to eat good food and just be happy. I think Christmas 2021 will be appreciated so much more than any before it by everyone.
William really enjoyed his christmas dinner and when I say that what I actually mean is he actually ate it this year and pudding too 🍰… I hope his nanna doesn’t take this personally against hers especially after my dads comments last year #dry 😂 We took some of his sensory toys and his tablet so that he could freely do what keeps him happy such as watching ‘Little Baby Bum’ on netflix and biting things 😁 The reason his does this is for oral stimulation… If i’m not careful he tries to eat the fluff on my dressing gown, paper, dog food or his own poop 🤮. I do think William may have an eating disorder called Pica which is relatively common in those with autism or developmental conditions.
When we got home he was ready for round two of presents 🎁 and to spend some time with his dad, which was nice as he got to see him open some gifts too. We ate left over buffet from christmas eve (yes we had room and no I didn’t cook it; it was a cheeky morrisons order) and relaxed in our new PJ’s until bed time.
Williams weighted blanket from big nan was a smash hit but he wouldn’t share it with me, in fact when I tried to cover myself with my own blanket he decided I wasn’t allowed that either😲
Overall this Christmas (year even) wasn’t the one anyone imagined we would be having but to me its given me a whole new appreciation for the festive season and how important it is to spend time with your family. I’m not saying that this time next year I wont be writing a ‘Jingle Hell… Pt.2’ based on last years post but I think I am more prepared now, I can see what triggers William’s meltdowns and can try to prevent them in advance.
I really hope you all had a wonderful christmas or at least got very drunk to block it out🍾 We will all have a re-do for 2021 and it will be the most magical christmas any of us have known, wouldn’t it be amazing if it was a white christmas too ⛄
Its approximately 28 hours until we can say goodbye to this terrible year, I am still working hard on my Understanding Autism level 2 so I may not get the chance to wish you all a happy new year after today but remember, it can not be any worse than this year. Much Love M. x 😘
It is a strange feeling to know that it will always be me who will get up to soothe William in the night, always me that will get to kiss him goodnight and always me who will be bitten and hit during meltdowns. I never imagined I would have to try and coparent with anyone who wasn’t my spouse and it’s hard to have to stay in such close contact with someone who has hurt you so badly but it isn’t about me, its about William and he has and always will come first.
That being said I am trying hard to keep my own mental health a priority too, I have made it no secret that the last time I had a lot of changes in my life I had a breakdown and went to a dark and scary place but I came through it with a lot of help but only once I able to admit my feelings. I am very lucky to have an amazing support network who I can be open and honest with about my feelings. I can cry, shout and be irrational without being judged and I am so grateful for that.
There are many things that I am so thankful for right now. After weeks of practising William has finally mastered his first Makaton sign… I don’t think it will surprise anyone when I tell you it is for food. 🥗 that boy loves his grub! I am going to slowly introduce more signs and have invested in the Makaton core vocabulary stages 1-8 book, I bought this direct from the Makaton charity so that I know the money is going to the right place and would recommend anyone to do the same. I will keep you posted on any further developments when it arrives. Check out the video here.
William also got his first grazed knee, he was outside playing and fell which shouldn’t be a good thing but… it was the first time he put he hands out to stop his fall. It was not just a fall because he lost balance, he fell because he was excited and trying to run. He reached out to me for comfort and as I held him, he stopped crying. That wasn’t usually something I could do as he always sought his dad for comfort.
We are missing Big Nan loads 😥 Sundays aren’t really Sundays with out seeing her or having her Sunday dinners 🤤 I worry that when national lockdown ends we will go straight into localized restrictions. I know she is missing us just as much. When we call her and she asks William for a kiss, he starts kissing the phone. He does not do this for anyone else. Their bond is amazing despite spending 113 days apart in the last lockdown, not that I counted 😳
We have had many sleepless nights recently whether its because William is still adjusting to his new routine or because the poor little guy always seems to be poorly, he manages to pick up a cold more often than some people change their underwear. I swear that boy has had a constant runny nose since he was two years old. Then there are his bowel problems which means he either can’t go to toilet or that when he does they are massive explosions of nastiness… But with the help of lots of coffee and cuddles we have survived them.
Before I sign off I want to tell you about one of my solo fails recently and I apologise if I have told this story in a previous post… William had a huge explosion during our first week alone, I’m not going to lie for a few seconds I freaked out. We were in the living room, so I stripped him off and made our way to the bathroom (which is downstairs) through the kitchen. His hands were covered in poop and I managed to prevent him touching anything except the bathroom door. Swiftly plopped him into the bathtub and hosed him down with shower, William hates bath time but seemed soothed under the stream of water and as there was no risk of drowning I left him sat in the empty bath running his hands under the shower head… My plan was to disinfect the door which was easily done and then quickly grab his dirty clothes and nappy so we could go straight back into the living room to continue whatever it was we were doing (most likely watching Little Baby Bum on Netflix📺) I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty chuffed with myself but as I pushed open the living room door that soon changed… there was poop everywhere!!! The dog had destroyed the nappy and my clean living room now resembled a port-a-loo at a festival 🤮 needless to say the experience was most definitely a learning curve and since then the dog is not left unsupervised with shitty nappies.
Oh and check out this picture, my DNA runs strong in this one…
One of my biggest fears is about William and getting into the right school for him and applications are getting closer and closer so it is a big source of stress during an already stressful time for us.
I read an article recently about a little local boy who was deemed ‘not special needs enough’ for a specialised school and ‘too special needs’ for a mainstream schools who can not accommodate his SEN requirements, leaving him without a place.
The little boy in question in question has a mental age not much older than Williams, is non verbal, is still in nappies and is currently awaiting his autism assessment. On paper a very similar situation to Williams, so as you can imagine this read was my equivalent of reading a Stephen King or Dean Koontz book before bed. 😱
I was advised to reach out to mainstream schools in our area to see what SEN provisions they have should William not be allocated a place within a special school, I have made no secret about the fact there is a specific special school I feel will suit his needs but if that is not possible I would happily begrudgingly accept an alternative but I know that a mainstream school would not be able to meet his needs in the long run, I have reached out to eight different schools in my area, only one which would be easy to get to but I reached out to them all. * One have said they can not accommodate him despite having a responsibility to adjust their settings to do so. * One have stated they need his EHCP before commenting, unfortunately due to covid the process of this was delayed and we may not have this in time for applications although I am aware that it is 90 pages long 📜 * One wanted to invite me in for a look around and a conversation but did state after early years they aren’t big enough to accommodate his needs. * One said they would call me and haven’t * The remaining four have yet to respond despite a secondary email.
Before I was a single parent, myself and William’s dad had discussed how we don’t think a mainstream school would be a good fit for William and the possibility of keeping him at home until we could secure a place which would meet all his needs however now I am not sure how I would be able to try and home school him and work all whilst fighting for his right to education in a safe and secure environment. It never crossed my mind that I would need a place at a mainstream school and now I am worried that I may not get one which is terrifying.
All signs and indications point to the fact William has an exceptionally good chance at obtaining a place at his school of choice or at least an suitable alternative but what if he doesn’t? The schools I am reaching out to aren’t exactly helping me make a decision but what if that decision is taken out of my hands? What if no school can help him?
Its a difficult thought to process especially after reading the article (Click here to read it), as with anything about special needs it is a waiting game, waiting for EHCP, waiting for an assessment but as each day passes mainstream allocations get closer and it feels so overwhelming. I guess waiting is the only thing I can do until our next meeting in December with the councils SEN team.
Hulls SEND strategy is dated from 2016 to 2020 and it starts with their vision Our vision for children with special educational needs and disabilities is the same as for all children and young people – that they achieve well in their early years, at school and in college, and lead happy and fulfilled lives. They talk about their responsibility to commission and provide services for children but there are so many cases where this hasn’t happened that I feel like I am reading a piece of fiction but again only time will tell…
I want to talk about why we now own these two DVDs
I used to love DVDs, movies are a big passion of mine and had over two thousand DVDs not including TV box sets or Christmas films. About two years ago we realised like many other people that they were just gathering dust because we had become more reliant on streaming services which made me a little sad as I had been collecting them since I was about thirteen and finally decided to get rid of my VHS. When I met Dave he too shared my passion for movies and our collection just grew. I remember the last DVD I bought was for Dave for Christmas 2014 and it was The Guardians of The Galaxy. We gave almost every single DVD away, Big Nan got first dibs of the chick flicks, I kept the Disney classic in a DVD folder and the rest went to our close friends.
We don’t even own a DVD player but yet yesterday Dave bought these two DVDs 😕
Yesterday was Williams 6 month eye check at the Eye Hospital and as I was working and only one parent is allowed to attend due to Covid-19 restrictions Dave went on his own… I’m getting better at trusting anyone other than myself to ask the right questions now… sometimes. They always struggle to do his eye check as he isn’t fully cooperative, They have told us at the last two checks that everything seems fine but they can’t be 100% sure because he won’t let them check as thoroughly as they would like. Because of this we keep going back, waiting for the day they will discharge us as a patient. William didn’t get to see his Auntie H either as she was super busy.
As a treat afterwards for being a good boy Dave took William into the town centre to get him a treat for his dinner. This usually results in copious amounts of cheese straws and sausage rolls from Cooplands. The boy is an absolute savory fiend.
Anyone that knows Dave knows that he loves his Playstation. Not as much as he love William or Rusty but I think it’s on par with me 😂😂😂 so he popped into CEX in Prospect Centre to look at some games. This is somewhere that when at the height of my DVD addiction I used to frequent on my lunch break when I worked in the offices above. 💿 The staff have always been pleasant, helpful and friendly. William is a sneaky bugger when he wants to be, we’ve been in shops when he has grabbed something random off the shelves because it caught his eye and I’ve nearly left with it or when he has started trying to eat a wrapped chocolate bar and ‘ve had to pay for it knowing full well he doesn’t like turkish delight (It’s a good job I do… keep up the bright wrappers Frys 😉)
Dave got shouted at by a woman in CEX. I will repeat that… shouted at by a woman in CEX. That’s CEX the most relaxed shop in the world. ‘You’re not allowed to touch!’ ‘He can’t touch that!’ ‘Covid!’ Now I’m not sure if I am overreacting here but William sits in what is in my opinion clearly a disability stroller. There is a hidden disability lanyard hanging from one handle and a large disc on the other. I’m really angry that they chose to address this by shouting and for anyone but Dave, this could have caused upset or major embarrassment, I speak from experience when I say that on some days life as a special needs parent is one comment, look or cough away from a breakdown. She at this point had no idea if he was planning on purchasing the items or not. I understand that in the current climate you have to be so careful but these DVDs are wrapped in plastic and could easily be wiped down, We carry antibacterial wipes in our change bag and could have wiped them down ourselves. I’m also not saying that because William has additional needs that he doesn’t need to follow the rules but there should be at least some modicum of understanding. or a better way of going about it. Dave bought the DVDs and basically told the woman that was his intention all along despite not knowing William had hold of them as a way of saying fuck you. Mr however I think I would have shamed her, told her loudly all about Williams needs and difficulties and made her feel like an idiot, offered to wipe them down or to buy them if that wasn’t feasible. She could have gone about it in a much better way; she could have walked over and explained to Dave who would have apologised and explained but she didn’t… she chose to berate Dave across the shop floor. I’m not sure if i’m being oversensitive but I do feel in the year 2020 people should be more understanding before jumping to conclusions. William wasn’t running amok in the store he was confined to his stroller clearly displaying he had additional needs. If you aren’t allowed to touch the DVDs or Games how are you supposed to read the back to ensure they are suitable? They’ve all been wrapped in the clear plastic, for what reason?
On a positive note… Last night William had just had a bum change (not the positive bit 🤮) and he reached his arms out to me like he wanted to be carried and when I reached down he placed his arm around my neck and put his head on my shoulder. He wanted to give me a cuddle 🥰 He has never actively cuddled before. He will climb up next to you and snuggle in but he initiated a cuddle for the first time. I cried and ruined the moment because he then pinched my glasses and ran away laughing but it was so worth it!
I wanted to share with you some details from two articles published by The Independent and Hull Live about Ryan Addison.
Being from Hull myself the story automatically caught my attention for some pretty disturbing reasons. Firstly the article on Hull Live hold the title ‘Innocent Hull man locked up with criminals for years because of his autism’ When Ryan was 17 years old, verging on adulthood he showed signs of concerning behaviour which cumulated in him trying to take his own life. He was then voluntarily detained in hospital for help with his behaviour. With him being 17 at the time he would not have been able to give permission for this himself so the mental health professionals must have asked him mother and father for consent on his behalf.
Ryan’s mom was pleased and thought after some treatment she would get her boy back home, a few weeks maximum she thought… That was 14 years ago.
Sadly Ryan was wrong diagnosed as suffering with Schizophrenia which was only re-evaluated 12 years after the initial diagnosis. He did not have Schizophrenia but was actually autistic. For those 12 years with an incorrect diagnosis Ryan was treated with drugs for something he did not have. Ryan has been so heavily medicated he lost 14 teeth and had to be fitted with denture which has since been misplaced.
After 10 years Ryan was moved to the Humber Centre for Forensic Psychiatry which according to the NHS UK site provides medium and low security for patients suffering from mental disorders, learning disabilities and personality disorders; offering assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.
Within 4 months of arriving at The Humber Centre Ryan was put into long-term segregation and between October 2017 and February 2018 he was not permitted to have any contact with the outside world after showing aggressive behaviour and violence. The department of health state in their section of the right to have visitors when detained under the mental health act the below…
You can have visitors but different wards have different rules about times etc.
Your visitors can be very important in giving you support.
The Code of Practice also states
All patients have the right to maintain contact with, and be visited by, anyone they wish to see, subject to carefully limited exceptions. The value of visits in maintaining links with family and community networks is recognised as a key element in a patient’s care, treatment and recovery. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protects the right to a family life. In particular, every effort should be made to support parents to support their children. Patients should be able to see all their visitors in private, including in their own bedroom if the patient wishes.
Visits should be encouraged and made as comfortable and easy as possible for the visitor and the patient. Reasonable and flexible visiting times, access to refreshments and pleasant surroundings will all contribute to a sense of respect for the patient’s entitlement to be visited
In addition to visits, every effort should be made to assist the patient, where appropriate, to maintain contact with relatives, friends and advocates in other ways. It is good practice for patients to be placed in a hospital as close as reasonably practicable to their families, and patients should have readily accessible and appropriate daytime telephone and internet facilities (see chapter 8). Where a patient is placed out of area it is good practice to consider the needs of family and carers who have to travel in order to visit
There are circumstances where hospital managers may restrict visitors, refuse them entry or require them to leave. Managers should have a policy on the circumstances in which visits to patients may be restricted, to which both clinical staff and patients may refer, which should be clearly displayed on the ward.
There are two principal grounds which could justify the restriction or exclusion of a visitor: clinical grounds and security grounds.
The decision to prohibit a visit by any person whom the patient has requested to visit or has agreed to see should be regarded as a serious interference with the rights of the patient and a blanket restriction may be considered a breach of their article 8 rights. There may be circumstances when a visitor has to be excluded, but these instances should be exceptional and any decision should be taken only after other means to deal with the problem have been considered and (where appropriate) tried. Any such decision should be fully documented and include the reasons for the exclusion, and it should be made available for independent scrutiny by the CQC or service commissioner, and explained to the patient. Hospital managers should review the effect on the patient of any decision to restrict visits. These policies should be risk-based and not impose blanket restrictions, eg no visitors for the first four weeks after admission
From time to time, the patient’s responsible clinician may decide, after assessment and discussion with the multi-disciplinary team, that some visits could be detrimental to the safety or wellbeing of the patient, the visitor, other patients or staff on the ward. In these circumstances, the responsible clinician may make special arrangements for the visit, impose reasonable conditions or if necessary exclude the visitor. In any of these cases, the reasons for the restriction should be recorded and explained to the patient and the visitor, both orally and in writing (subject to the normal considerations of patient confidentiality). Wherever possible, 24-hour notice should be given of this decision.
The behaviour of a particular visitor may be disruptive, or may have been disruptive in the past, to the degree that exclusion from the hospital is necessary as a last resort. Examples of such behaviour include: • incitement to abscond • smuggling of illicit drugs or alcohol into the hospital or unit • transfer of potential weapons • unacceptable aggression, and • attempts by members of the media to gain unauthorised access.
A decision to exclude a visitor on the grounds of their behaviour should be fully documented and explained to the patient orally and in writing. Where possible and appropriate, the reason for the decision should be communicated to the person being excluded (subject to the normal considerations of patient confidentiality and any overriding security concerns).
The hospital manager has a responsibility to regularly monitor the excluded visitors list and keep all parties informed which was according the articles was not adhered to so he or she should be facing severe disciplinary action and potentially dismissal.
I want to add here that it wasn’t until 2018 that Ryan’s mom said it was clear he should not be locked up. Now I am not sure if the article is paraphrasing but misdiagnosis or not, Ryan’s behaviour was still very challenging; It took 9 staff to restrain him when he became aggressive which did result in Ryan suffering some injuries which shouldn’t have happened however if he was aggressive then there would be the need to restrain him from hurting himself or others in the facility.
It is officially stated that detaining those with autism diagnosis is not effective however figures do show that the number of those detained in facilities has more than doubled within 5 years which is a terrifying jump in numbers.
Sharon claims that she was not able to physically touch her son, take up to date photos of him or even see his room. she states she called the centre twice a day; once in a morning and once at night to see how her son was doing but in October 2019 she was unable to reach the ward despite multiple attempts. A member of staff at the facility had blocked Sharon’s number and when she dialled from her husbands phone that was blocked too. It was only then that she made an official complaint but no one would admit to blocking their calls and apparently it was untraceable due to the number of staff on duty but senior managers at the facility have given a stern warning to all staff that such behaviour is not acceptable! (apparently that needs spelling out) Thus meant that no one could be held accountable for such a heinous act and most probably still work there with vulnerable people and their families.
In a statement Humber Teaching Foundation Trust said: “We are in complete agreement with Mrs Clarke that Ryan’s current hospital placement is an inappropriate environment to meet Ryan’s needs. We are pleased that, following positive meetings with commissioners last week, together we are now taking the steps required to discharge Ryan into a community placement that will be better placed meet his needs. We understand that Ryan and his family feel that this process has taken a longer than expected, however, it is important that we find the right placement that meets Ryan’s complex needs and enables him to progress further with his recovery”
I’m a glass half empty kind of person and I do find it odd that it has taken so long for the failures around Ryan’s care to be addressed not only by his family but also the Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS. Did Ryan just slip through the gaps? or was he forgotten about because it was more convenient for all parties?
The Government has now agreed a new 62 million pound fund to help local councils tailor bespoke packages to suit the needs of adults like Ryan however Covid-19 is more than likely to have an impact on this due to the amount council have spent during this pandemic.
His mom thinks that when he is released he will become more like the young boy she remembers and will truly blossom however that was a long time ago but I sincerely hope that is true for him. He has had a huge portion of his life taken away and although he can not get back the years he has lost I really hope he can have many fulfilled ones in the future. I will update about his release when possible.
Check out the original article from The Independent here And the Hull live article here