Monday, 13 July 2015

Friends of mine have a profoundly

disabled daughter. She can do nothing for herself. Her "guesstimated" mental age is around that of a two year old. She cannot speak but she will smile at people she recognises. Ask a simple "yes" or "no" question and you may be lucky to get an answer by her efforts to look up for "yes" and down for "no".
K and I actually get on rather well together. I have known her since she was at school. She seems pleased to see me.
K appears to like going out. She likes to watch people. They don't have to interact with her. She appears content to just watch them. 
Her parents are now both in their eighties. They have been caring for her for more than forty-five years. Only in the past few years have they had any physical help. That only happened when her father went into hospital and it was clear that her mother could not manage alone. 
Oh yes, despite their requests for help, it took that to happen. They knew the next step was going to be difficult but it had to be taken. They made renewed efforts to find K accommodation that she could settle into before they can no longer care for her at all. 
Several months ago they had  it sorted. K was moving into a "group house" not far away. They could ease the transition with frequent visits and showing the staff how things like feeding and dressing are done - and yes, people need to learn how to do these things when an adult cannot chew or swallow easily and cannot assist with dressing in anyway. 
All was going well - and then another resident was introduced to the group house. He's intellectually disabled. He's mobile. He's violent. He doesn't fit with the rest of the group. He attacked K. He attacked K more than once. There are physical marks on her.  He's attacked the other residents and the staff too.
Fearful for their daughter's safety K's parents tried to negotiate changes. They are not people who make complaints easily. Over the years they have had less help than many other families because they have been willing to put up with doing things for themselves.
They were offered a choice this time, put K in solitary confinement or take K home again. 
K's entire waking day is made up of watching and listening to people, of interacting in her limited way when they have time to stop and talk to her. Solitary confinement is cruel at any time and for K it would be inhumane in the extreme. Her parents have brought her home again. They don't know when or where she will have another chance to begin a new life away from home.
The violent boy is still there. He is still disrupting the group. He apparently has some understanding of right and wrong, certainly knows that attacking K was wrong. He's been allowed to get away with bad behaviour for years. They are now supposed to be trying to "train" him out of it but the staffing of those group homes is not constant. The staff don't have the behaviour modification skills that are needed to handle him. He will go on being disruptive. Other desperate parents will move their children out.
It is the boy who needs to be isolated for a time. He needs intensive one on one training to at least reduce his behaviour to manageable levels. He needs to be introduced gradually to group living. 
It won't happen. The resources aren't there. K's parents have been told "the money isn't available". That it will cost more in the end is not a consideration.
K's happy back at home. Thankfully she doesn't understand what the problems are but her parents are sick with worry. What happens next?
We closed the institutions - and yes, some of them were dreadful places - but we have made some people even more vulnerable than before.


Carole Blake said...

That really is heartbreaking. And puzzling that they will let one resident disturb all the others, rather than deal with his behaviour.

catdownunder said...

They cannot force the family of the boy to take him home again now that they have accepted a place for him. I don't imagine his parents will want to relinquish the place they have obtained.
The authorities are supposed to ensure that residents in group houses are a suitable balance and able to get along with each other. The reality is that residents get dumped wherever there is a vacancy.