Black Friday

October 7th 2005

Who is Who?

  • Matt is My second eldest son, 17 at the time
  • Jermaine, my eldest son, was 18
  • Jackie Adams was the social worker
  • Rob Hollins worked for the NHS

Jermaine was primarily dealt with by social services with occasional respite provided by health.

I have been feeling ill all week and it has been getting progressively worse as the days have gone on.

I left a note for Matt asking him if he didn’t have to rush off to college to get the kids off to school and allow me a lay in. Well, he couldn’t do that, not his fault, he has a life too. When he woke me up it was to tell me that Jermaine had a seizure earlier on and now he was being violent and wouldn’t let Matt clean him up but Matt had to go.

Jermaine was on his bed when I went in, urine everywhere and he had moved the continence sheets so it had gone through the mattress to the bed and floor, the room stank terrible, it normally did smell but this was something even worse than normal. I was sweating like hell because of the bug I have and had virtually no energy. Still, as one does I got him into the shower which was a terrible struggle, he wouldn’t let me do anything so I was taking it very slowly which was making me dizzy and more weak. I got him back to his room and dried him and put new pants on then looked around for his trousers which I discovered laying in the urine soaked into the carpet. As I found them Jermaine sat down on the bed then lay down, now back to square one again I knew I didn’t have the energy to continue. There was no way it was going to be safe for me to care for Jermaine and myself all day as it was clear he wasn’t going to school. My concerns were that he could turn violent again and I had no fight left in me, he could have a seizure and seriously hurt himself and need moving and, again, I had no energy. On top of that I was having real trouble staying awake and I would need to if he was to be fed and medicated on time and appropriately.

I looked at my options, all my friends were working, Matt was at college and his studies are very important, I don’t have any family locally, not within 150 miles to be exact. The one friend I had that didn’t work I telephoned but he has health issues of his own and had a very important  appointment at the hospital in Milton Keynes that day and, as it was his eyes, knew he would not be able to see that afternoon. So, I was stuck and decided the best course of action was to call social services. At first I tried their out of hours emergency number but that guy was worse than useless and just took messages so I had to wait until 9. At 9:15 I spoke to Jackie Adams and explained the situation. Jackie is the boss of Jermaine’s care manager who I couldn’t call because she only works Mon ? Weds. I explained everything as I have written it above, and she said she would get something arranged. The hours came and went. I called back occasionally but nothing seemed to be moving forward to offering a service. Jermaine was still upstairs, by mid day I was able to get him up again and dry him off, I couldn’t shower him, I didn’t have the energy.  He was therefore still very smelly. I gave him some breakfast cereal and tested him, his sugar level was normal so I didn’t feel he needed insulin, I also wouldn’t give him any as I couldn’t be sure when his next meal was going to be. By 1pm I was already warning Jackie Adams that if something were not arranged very soon I would have to, for his safety; bring Jermaine to her office thus making her responsible for his care which meant that she really would have to find something. I also stressed that she was a lot more of a capable adult than I was at that time. Rob Hollins started to call around the same time from ‘The Martins’ in Rushden saying that he had a bed but that he wasn’t sure he could get staff. On each occasion we spoke I reminded him that their failure to have an emergency contingency plan was ridiculous. But then, I had been saying for months, what if I needed support in a hurry, what can you do with such a complex case? No one at either health or social services took me seriously. There are some things that just have to be covered or else they are not offering best care to their clients. To elaborate on that, I am ill and that is serious enough but what if I had been taken to hospital or worse yet, suddenly died, with nothing in place Jermaine would be at extreme risk.

The situation continued and by 3pm I was fading rapidly, I knew if I were to have the energy to get him anywhere it had to be now. I spoke with Jackie and Rob and the situation had not changed. I told Jackie that I was on my way down to Campbell House, I was very sorry, it was not my first choice or anywhere close but I had to do what I considered to be right to ensure Jermaine was safe. Rob had reminded me that I was his parent in that way that people do when they are trying to make someone feel guilty and both Rob and Jackie were telling me how inappropriate my actions were, neither seeming to listen to me when I mentioned all the things above and that I was doing for Jermaine. The insinuation was that I was actually just doing it to make a point, something I consider to be a totally sick suggestion. It also proves how little they know me.

I spoke to Jermaine before we left, gave him a huge hug and cried a bit and then drove him into town. I introduced myself and then spoke with Jermaine again. I don’t imagine it made him feel any better or worse that I spoke to him but I have to try, he has the right to at least have it attempted to be explained to him what is happening and why.

Rob and Jackie turned up in reception and both, like a pair of rehearsed twins were telling me how inappropriate this all was. Jackie had stopped calling me Steve and was back to Mr Williams, very significant I thought. Rob said he wanted me to wait another hour. He didn’t say ‘or so’ just to wait one hour, take Jermaine home and then someone will pick him up. I considered what he said, I went through the scenarios. What if Jermaine had another seizure in that time, what if he turned violent, what if he started to get all distressed about it, after all, I had already explained what was happening to him and changing that now would have been really confusing. Add to those things that I have no reason to trust these people to mean what they say. I know I have had little dealings with health but I have had years of experience of social services and know with them that an hour could well have meant half a day or more. All in I decided to not take the chance. There were two capable adults here able to care for Jermaine both of whom would have been police checked. He had all his medication with him and both were able to call upon the provision of nursing if required, after all, if they couldn’t, who could right? I was convinced that Jermaine was now safe, way more safe than he could have been at home with me as I my health is currently.

Very soon after getting home I went to bed, I had no energy left and Daisy was home as was Zoey, both are capable of being on their own for short periods and I was in the house should they need to get me.

During the time from Daisy getting home (about 3:40 and me getting back at 4:05pm) someone from ‘The Martin’ called, someone Scottish called Helen Smart. She told Daisy, Daisy is 12 remember, that it was very irresponsible and inappropriate what Daddy had done and so she had contacted social services and the police about it so I may expect a visit later. How scary can that be being told to a 12 year old?

There was a message also to call The Martins which I did. I was told again how irresponsible I was, how inappropriate it was etc by Rob who told me the troubles he had getting Jermaine into his car. He also mentioned that he would have to speak to others to decide if home was a fit placement for Jermaine, the man effectively told me I was an unfit parent and that Jermaine should be taken into care!

Later on, this Helen and a colleague arrived on the doorstep. They were greeted by Nick, a guy I had been seeing for just a very short while who had popped in to see I was OK. They asked him who he was and why he couldn’t have taken over care of Jermaine? I mean, I have known Nick for just a month, no one could expect a boyfriend to be doing that sort of thing so soon. The door bell had woken me so I dressed and went to see who it was. When I got down the stairs, and I just sat on the stairs, they started having digs at me about how this I was and how that it was. They were also telling me how annoying it was them having to have rushed around so much trying to get things arranged and how unfair it was that they and Rob had to stay behind late to make arrangements, how they were entitled to more notice, how irresponsible I was being. I pointed out to Helen that speaking as she did to Daisy was not too clever either and she just shrugged and said she was just doing her job. She then tried to compare her situation with her child to mine saying how no caring parent would leave their child with strangers. I pointed out that she had no idea what she would have done in my situation because she isn’t and thankfully never will be in the situation of living alone with no family nearby, no support network, 4 children, one severally mentally handicapped and another moderately, that how she would react with her one normal child just didn’t compare. I mentioned that telling a parent when they were as ill and in need of support as I was that they may lose their child was just so wrong. She asked how it made me feel when Rob told me that. I said, how would you feel if you were ill and asked your mother to look after your child and she then told you that you may not get her back again? She smiled, thought it amusing. I think in that way that people do when the penny has finally dropped but I can’t be sure.

They made it clear to me anyway that, and they didn’t hide or attempt to hide this well, that I could not have Jermaine back until I had proven I was a fit parent and had learnt not to be so irresponsible again. They want to try and get a meeting arranged before next Weds. They also tried to make out that I clearly couldn’t cope as I had asked for help already for next week so clearly I wasn’t coping very well. I realised what they were on about and said that what I had asked for was a three hour cover for Next Monday to enable me to go to Tony’s, one of my closest friends, funeral. I went on to tell them that this sort of cover had already been theoretically approved, it was just a matter of getting it arranged which was taking the time. There should, in fact, be someone coming in regularly to help out. Helen said I was wrong to leave Jermaine in the care of Health so I pointed out that actually I had not, I had left him with Jackie Adams from Social Services. Helen then said that Jackie had walked away and left Rob on his own soon after I left playing no further part.

All in all, a horrible day and no, I don’t feel any better, I may actually still be getting worse.

 

This led to a POVA meeting (vulnerable adults) which I had to attend to ascertain whether or not I was fit to take Jermaine back home again. Everyone at that meeting, and there were 9 against me, agreed that Jermaine was no longer in any danger yet he is being kept on the adult equivalent of the ‘At Risks Register’ until such time as Helen Smart (turns out she is quite a senior figure in health) see’s fit to do otherwise.

No one apologised or seemed to acknowledge they had done anything wrong.

There is a package of carers that come in daily now but this is not the same as having anything in place to cover this sort of thing.

In a carer’s assessment that Matt and myself completed in July 2005, we both highlighted this hole in the available provision and that this could happen if not covered properly. They did not look at that document until November 2005.

 

Eventually I won a complaint against social services and proved they had no legal authority to have taken the decisions regarding the POVA that they did and that, in fact, there is no such thing for people such as Jermaine and there was actually never any question as to whether I was fit to take care of my children