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Newcastle Down's syndrome man's care criticised - Carers UK Forum

Newcastle Down's syndrome man's care criticised

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A man with Down's syndrome who was detained in hospital, then moved to unsuitable accommodation, had his human rights ignored, an inquiry has found.

The report by the Health Service and Local Government Ombudsman highlighted failings in the care of the Newcastle man, known as Mr J, who has since died.

After hospital he stayed at a flat, where he was kept locked in.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle City Council said services had now changed.

The investigation followed a complaint by the brother of Mr J, in 2006.

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The failures ... show how public authorities can neglect a vulnerable person's wishes”

Anne Seex
Local Government Ombudsman
Previously, the man had been active, outgoing and sociable, living independently in rented accommodation with his wife and receiving day-to-day support from Newcastle City Council.

Following a deterioration in his skills and health, he was admitted to hospital for a short assessment and diagnosed with dementia and epilepsy.

Although declared ready for discharge, he was kept in hospital for a further five months.

Then, as his previous accommodation was considered to be unsuitable, he and his wife were moved to a self-contained flat at a care home for older people. The flat was locked to restrict his access to the outside.

Although intended as a temporary arrangement, he was still living there 10 months later when he became ill with a chest infection. The 53-year-old died in hospital.

The investigation found that Mr J's family were not fully involved in plans for his care.

'Quality of life'
The Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, said: "Mr J's rights, best interests, and family relationships were not taken into account when the trust and the council made plans for his care.

"This was highly likely to have had some impact on the quality of his life, and hence his wellbeing, in the last 18 months or so of his life.

"Mr J's family were also wrongly denied the opportunity to be involved and will never know if they could have made a difference to his quality of life in those last months, which must be a cause of significant and ongoing distress for them."

His family was awarded £2,000 for distress, which it has said it will donate to charity.

Local Government Ombudsman Anne Seex said: "The failures in Mr J's case show how public authorities can neglect a vulnerable person's wishes and basic human rights to liberty and family life.

"As a result, the authorities concerned will make changes so that other families are not treated this way."

Express concerns
Ewen Weir, Newcastle City Council's executive director of adult social services, said: "We fully accept the findings of the joint report and once again apologise unreservedly to Mr J's family.

"The events detailed in this report took place some time ago and our service, particularly in the way we deal with vulnerable people like Mr J, is now unrecognisable, and fully complies with government guidelines.

"However, we will continue to work hard, internally and with our partners, to make sure we continue to improve."

A spokeswoman for the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said: "The introduction of the Mental Capacity Act in 2007 provides a robust framework to assess and record capacity and the best interests of the patient.

"This also includes the involvement of family members.

"The trust has also introduced a monitoring tool, 'How's it going?', where patients can express any concerns or ask questions about their care, treatment and environment."
Councils and NHS Trusts who have breached Human rights so badly need to have some sort of penalty, other than a fine and a slap on the wrists. They KNEW that was wrong.They have only changed their ways because they have been found out, because family of the man have had the guts and sheer bloody-mindedness to pursue their complaint.
I admire the family,feel very sad about what happened.
Public authorities love delaying inquiries for a few years, by which time everyone involved will have gained promotions elsewhere or taken early retirement. Then they can say "these events took place a long time ago and since then we have done blah blah blah ... " Take £2,000. Do Not Pass Go.
I thought it was actually illegal for someone else to inprison someone...disabled or not....in their own home, why is no one being charged for this?
Sometimes i think we are just going back to square one.Lets lock `em up and forget `em,then the wheelchair people,the nutters,the old,the noisy,the queers,anybody who doesn`t fit the "average"box.
How many officious idiots did it take to make the decisions that led to this human being being locked in.How long before it happens to someone we know.Care in the community is rapidly becoming a joke and the justification will be money,or the shortage of it,whilst we carry on fighting in countries for causes that we are no longer clear about other than it has something to do with democracy.
Sorry about the rant but it`s 2011 and i`ve been hearing this sort of story for 56 years,and hearing how things are going to change,yet we still put very little value on human life,especially if it doesn`t fit into the "average" box. Image Image Image


And the complacent "it can't happen again" claptrap just makes my blood boil.