Mum's relief at Cawston Park closure after 'hideous' restraint on son
- Credit: Archant
A Lowestoft mother ran out of a failing Norfolk hospital with her son after finding two staff members holding him "in the most hideous restraint."
Maria Forwood put her hands together and shouted "hallelujah" when she heard Cawston Park, near Aylsham in Norfolk, had been closed down.
Her son Adam, who is severely autistic, non-verbal and has learning difficulties, was restrained 33 times in just six weeks at the private hospital in 2019 after health bosses refused to let him return home following a spell at the James Paget University Hospital.
A report into Cawston Park revealed a string of failures, including an excessive use of restraints by members of staff.
Mr Forwood's stay at the private hospital, which started in January 2019, came months after finding out he had been under the care of fake psychiatrist Zholia Alemi.
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Alemi practised psychiatry for 22 years with no qualifications, including as a locum consultant for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust between April 2014 and July 2015 at Lothingland Hospital in Oulton, before being jailed in 2018 for five years.
Miss Forwood said it was arranged for her son to go to Cawston Park after a meeting between health experts.
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"It was supposed to be a three month treatment plan and they told me he would be out in no time," she said.
"I had no choice to let them, but I was begging them not to because after Alemi I felt like they were doing the same thing.
"I was distraught."
Miss Forwood was allowed one visit at Cawston Park per week, and says both her and her son still have PTSD from that time.
She said: "Each time I saw him he was just a mess. He wasn't getting any better. He was covered in dressings, wasn't getting his hair cut and he had a full grown beard. He kept signing that he wanted to come home.
"I kept giving them things that would be good to visually support him, so each day he would have something to focus on and know he was coming home at the end, but they did nothing."
Her concerns grew over the following six weeks, during which time she claims her son was being given medication which "left him like a zombie."
Six weeks after being admitted, Miss Forwood visited again.
She said: "I walked in one Saturday and a nurse was in the office and asked who I was.
"I told them I was Adam's mum and he kept shouting loudly saying 'Adam's mum's here'.
"I asked what was wrong and he said nothing, but I told him to get out of my way and I pushed through and saw two men holding him in the most hideous restraint I have ever seen called the crucifix.
"His head was flopped down and he looked up at me and signed 'Mummy home'.
"I told them to get their hands off him and they said he was lashing out at him, but it was because they weren't caring for him and he didn't understand what was happening.
"I started putting his things in a bag and they were saying I couldn't take him, but I told them to watch me.
"We were running up the path to the car and they were following trying to stop us, but I wasn't having it anymore."
Since returning home, Mr Forwood, now 22, is "living his best life," often swimming, bowling and trampolining under a new service provider, and his mother believes more care should be focused in the community, rather than private hospitals.
She said: "They are not fit for purpose for any young person with learning difficulties, not just my son.
"There are too many young people still in these hospitals across the country and I want to try and highlight that as much as I can to help get them out.
"They should be supported in the community. What that looks like I don't know, but I am just glad Cawston Park has closed and my son got out of there."
Jeesal Group has been contacted for comment.
The report into Cawston Park
The report into the service found failures of governance, commissioning, oversight, planning for individuals and professional practice at the hospital, which was run by Jeesal Group and closed earlier this year after a long struggle to meet Care Quality Commission standards.
Ben King, 32, Nicholas Briant, 33, and Joanna Bailey, 36, died within just over two years of each other while patients at the hospital.
Dereham-based owners Jeesal Group closed the hospital in May , after Care Quality Commission inspectors, who had put it into special measures', said they were "unable to demonstrate improvements."
The serious case review was commissioned by Norfolk Safeguarding Adults' Board.
The report states: "People’s families could not value the unsafe grouping of certain patients, the excessive use of restraint and seclusion by unqualified staff, their relatives’ “overmedication,” or the hospital’s high tolerance of inactivity – all of which presented risks of further harm."