Ombudsman: Teen's 18 Months In Psych Ward Was
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 13, 2004
BOLTON, ENGLAND--The Bolton borough council has been ordered to pay £30,000 ($58,000 US) to an 18-year-old man and his mother for failing to provide an appropriate living situation for him.
The teenager, Andrew Taylor, has Fragile X syndrome, mental retardation and epilepsy, according to the Guardian.
When he left his specialized school, local officials placed him into a home without evaluating his particular needs. When he became "aggressive and destructive", the local council had him admitted to an adult psychiatric unit.
Taylor was locked up in the facility, heavily sedated, for 18 months, even though he was not diagnosed with a mental illness.
"From the outset it was recognized by the NHS (National Health Service), social services and his family that he was inappropriately placed in a locked acute psychiatric ward because he was not mentally ill," the ombudsman said last week.
With the help of one unnamed council officer, Taylor's parents fought the council to get their son out of the institution. A mental health tribunal ruled in February 2002 that the young man be moved to an appropriate setting as soon as possible.
"It is disturbing to think," wrote the ombudsman, "that . . . all that stood between Mr. Taylor and a severely limited future in a secure facility distant from his home was his strong and determined family and one council officer with enough courage, imagination and willingness to listen to his family."
Last Wednesday, the Bolton borough council issued its "sincere apologies" to the teenager and his family.
"It is chilling to think it needed such courage for one excellent officer to stand up to her colleagues," commented Sunday Times columnist Minette Marrin. "It is also chilling to think how much confidence, drive, time and money it takes for a family to make a complaint or legal challenge. Few families could do it."
"This painful story has a much wider significance," she continued. "It throws into sharp focus the question of who decides for people who have difficulty deciding for themselves -- which is the subject of the Mental Capacity Bill due to receive its third reading next week."
"How the carers hijacked an autistic man called Andrew" (Sunday Times)