In my last post about Sarah, a young adult with Autism, I explained how I had helped Sarah’s mother overcome a professionals decision that had excluded her from the decision making about her daughter and in my view breached the Mental Capacity Act making the Decision unlawful.
Angela wrote to me following my work and said that she had found me easy to talk to and that she had “felt almost protected” once I became involved. I sent Angela my last blog before I published it to ask if she was happy for me to put it on my website. Angela wrote back and with her permission I now publish for the benefit of those who are struggling to find a way forward her own words about the importance of getting the right legal advice at an early stage:
If people have got to the point where they are contacting you, they are anxious, upset and suffering from lack of sleep. Therefore, I am going to keep it brief. It’s entirely up to you what you do with this letter.
My daughter is 19 years of age and has autism with a learning difficulty.
Finding a suitable placement was difficult. Sarah was finally placed with a family where she was safe, happy and thriving. Due to some of her behaviour towards a member of that family, two teams dealing with Sarah decided she should be moved. She had not caused any injury to this family member or left a mark. All the family were devastated and did not want Sarah to leave. I am Sarah’s Next of Kin and was never included in that decision.
The teams also presumed that Sarah had no capacity, even without an assessment. I felt, very strongly that this was wrong. I needed legal help and fast. Both the family and I rang many law firms, with no luck. They either didn’t want to know, the case was too complex or they wre not involved with family law.
After Sarah’s carer’s searched the internet, they found Rosie Bracher Solicitors. They read your web page and realised you were just the expert we needed.
Mary, Sarah’s carer and I travelled miles to see you and we poured our hearts out to you. You knew the first call was a letter to stop Sarah from being removed from her home. You also knew that I was prepared to take the appropriate action to protect my daughter’s rights. After a letter from you, one team admitted they had acted lawlessly.
A best interests meeting was held and the decision for Sarah to remain within this loving family was granted. Mary and I were elated. Your hard work, letters and attendance at the best interest meeting had worked!
To conclude – as a mum of a vulnerable adult, my advice to anyone in similar circumstances is that, if a decision is made and it does not feel right, then it probably isn’t. Professional bodies can get it wrong. Get the appropriate help. Official complaints are useful and may work but professionals that are trained in law do have more “punch” and make people sit up and listen. If your son or daughter has been assessed for capacity and has little or none, insist on an independant advocate. The Mental Health Act is an Act of Parliament and it strives to give vulnerable people a choice and a voice.
Thank you Rosie, we couldn’t have done it without you.
(Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of Angela, Mary and Sarah).