Care in crisis – individuals with autism and learning disabilities dumped in institutions

A report by NHS England that has been published yesterday voices that thousands of people with autism and other learning difficulties are in “inappropriate hospitals” instead of being allowed to live within their own community or at home. Autism Daily Newscast reported on this a few weeks ago, our report can be read here.

The report was drawn up by Stephen Bobb, who is the chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations.  The report highlights the needs for more community facilities to be made available for those individuals with autism and learning disabilities and that ‘some “inappropriate” in-patient facilities should be closed.’ (BBC News.)

Recommendations made in the report include:

  • a charter of rights for people with learning disabilities and/or autism and their families
  • giving people with learning disabilities and their families a “right to challenge” decisions and the right to request a personal budget
  • a requirement for local decision-makers to follow a mandatory framework setting out who is responsible for which services and how they will be held to account
  • a planned closure programme of “inappropriate” in-patient facilities
  • improved training and education for NHS, local government and service provider staff
  • the founding of a social investment fund to build community-based services (BBC News)

Leo Andrade-Martinez’s son Stephen, who is severely autistic, has been placed 80 miles away from home in a psychiatric unit. She is only allowed to visit once a week, on  a Sunday and some weeks she is not allowed to see her son. We reported on this story here.

Leo with son Stephen

Leo with son Stephen

Speaking to BBC News Mrs Andrade spoke of how she welcomed the report  but that she has concerns in that the recommendations may not be that easy to implement. She desperately wants her son home for Christmas and told that there will be no Christmas without him.

Mrs Andrade posted on her online petition to bring her  son Stephen home:

 “He has the sweetest smile but since he has been there I haven’t seen it once. It’s not the right place for him – even his consultant agrees he should not be on the mental health register and should be moved somewhere more suitable.”

Another mother who has also set up an online petition is Nina Ni. her 17 year old son Tianze has autism and a learning disability. In May 2014 her son  was moved from their home town of Fife in Scotland to a hospital in Middlesbrough, he was only meant to stay for a 12 week assessment. Every weekend Nina travels 200 miles via trains to see her son.

Nina Ni amd son, taken from Warrior Mum blog, with permission

Nina Ni and son Tianze, reprinted with permission of Michelle Daly.

In an exclusive interview with Michelle Daly in her Warrior Mum’s Blog series, Nina states:

“This hospital move was a big mistake on our part. We trusted the doctors and thought they had our son’s welfare at heart.  We didn’t expect that my son could be stuck there for such a long time because Scotland have no place to care for him. Sadly my poor son has been there for seven months and we still don’t have schedule to bring him home!!!”

Nina desperately wants her son home for Christmas.

“Tianze wishes to come back home for Christmas. He is so looking forward, however I can’t give him any answers. For a boy who needs structure in his life, the monotony of living in a hospital with two hours a day regimented visiting hours where we are searched before we can see him; it is no life at all….”

To reads the full interview with Michelle Daly please visit the Warrior Mum’s blog here

Michelle Daly’s interview with Leo Andrade can be read here.

Tianze Ni petition van be found here

 Stephen Andrade-Martinez, petition van be found here