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"Support for vulnerable adults"

About: Barony Housing Care at Home, Fife Fife Council General practices in Fife Penumbra Scottish Autism - Fife & Tayside Outreach

(as a parent/guardian),

I am writing about my son, who has been battling with mental health problems since September 2015 when he was admitted to hospital with suicidal tendencies and psychiatric problems. When he was discharged there was no follow-up made and as a result, in February 2016 he got into trouble and he now has a record. He was assigned a social worker who saw him once a month, it felt like a tick box exercise as this person was not helpful at all, and my son’s anxiety increased. Eventually he managed to get referred to see a psychiatrist who, after some intensive sessions, diagnosed my son in the Autism Spectrum and with anxiety and depression problems. The assigned social worker did not seem to want to accept this diagnosis, refusing to take a copy and enter the diagnosis on my son's file.  The social worker is now finished their remit and no longer has input with my son.

My son lives on his own and his girlfriend attends to his daily needs. She is also young and is doing a wonderful service for him, but needs support as she cannot continue to do a 24/7 care routine. My son self-harms and it is distressing for them both when this occurs. I live some distance from them, and although we are in touch, often several times a day, it is not always possible to predict my son’s needs. They have had help in the past from Penumbra, who were excellent, then their support was withdrawn by the council and given to another agency.  We were told that Penumbra no longer operated this service in Kirkcaldy.   Barony, who took over, after a couple of months were requested by us to give a more appropriate service, declared that they "could not deal with people like him”. I cannot understand why the referral was made to them if this is the case. We approached the social work department again at the end of July 2017 to request support for daily living and were told that they could not provide this.

My son has had great support from the One-Stop Shop and Enable, who are trying to help him deal with this autism. Through Enable, we are trying to get Self Directed Support (SDS) as this, I quote from their web page “If you feel that you have need for a level of care or support in daily living, which is not currently available to you, then you may wish to contact your Council to discuss this with a social worker. Councils have a duty to support people in need and they must be sure that any resources they allocate to people are sufficient to meet those needs”.

At the end of November, my son was informed that he didn’t meet the criteria for SDS as per his assessment in September. It has since been confirmed, and by the social work department, that this assessment did not take place, and the criteria wasn’t met because of phone calls unanswered (and of which there is no trace of such missed calls on my son’s phone log) and correspondence sent but not replied to (which my son did not receive). This news sent my son into a panic, as he is without even short-term support and the relationship with his girlfriend is at risk due to this lack of help. Fortunately, I happened to be visiting at the time and managed to get in touch with the social work department to ask for help. After more calls, I was informed again that this kind of support wasn’t provided by them and when I said that he was very vulnerable they told me to call the police if that was the case. I was also to make sure that his GP knows that he is vulnerable. We did confirm this with his GP. During another call with the social work department, they saw fit to send to police to my son’s door. This was a highly inappropriate action, and although the police were very kind, after they left, my son panicked and hurt himself, NHS 24 said that his GP, not them, should be his port of call. My son and his girlfriend are embarrassed, hurt, and frustrated, as they are being passed from pillar to post without any resolutions. Since then, he has received a letter, (the first one he had seen), and an offer of short-term support was offered, and acceptance made, in the absence of a more appropriate solution, but also because it would be activated quickly and before Christmas. It hasn’t happened.

In the meantime, I have been in communication with the Scottish Health Minister, the First Minister, the Director of Social Work in Fife, the Fife MSP and just lately, the Service Manager of Fife Wide Division.  I feel there the relevant people have been completely misinformed about my son’s conditions, hence the new contacts, to set the record straight.

The point of my getting involved, is to try to get the kind of help my son needs and to say that I believe that the social work department are contravening the Mental Health (care and treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, Care and support services and services designed to promote well-being and social development – sections 25 to 28, by ignoring his dual diagnosis and therefore his need for support on a long-term basis. It's also my understanding that it is not lawful or rational for a local authority to decide about the provision of services unless there is an assessment in place.

The fact that my son is very articulate seems to be blinding these social workers into judging him to be far more capable than he is. We have also been questioned as to the age at which he got his diagnosis, and my own, and my other son’s commitment to him was also highlighted. If I put in all the details pertaining to my son’s case, it would make this very long indeed and I am trying to keep it short, however, if you require more details, I would be very pleased to supply them. My family and I are endeavouring to create a safe environment for my son which is why we are hoping to access SDS, as this would enable us to put together a package of support tailored for him.

I am so worried about the effect all this misinformation, lack of action and clarity, and inappropriate attitude is having on my son, that I’ve taken this further step of raising it here.