Mental Health Watch: Norfolk parents hit out at system and say they’re prisoners in their own home
PUBLISHED: 12:24 20 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:28 20 May 2016
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2015
The parents of a young Norfolk man who suffers from mental health problems have spoken of their frustration at what they see as the continued failures of a system which is supposed to be helping their son.
Nick and Maxine Fulcher, from North Lopham, near Diss, claim the care their son Kieran has received from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is inadequate after the service failed to provide him with a community care plan.
Kieran has autism and began suffering from mental health problems in 2014. From July 2015 until March this year the 20-year-old received treatment at a NSFT-run facility called Walker Close in Ipswich.
During that time Kieran was able to spend time at home with his family but his parents say a lack of communication between Walker Close and the community team provided by NSFT meant they received no support when he was at home.
The family said there should have been regular visits to their house from community teams and phone calls to check-in on Kieran, which should have been flagged up by a care plan.
Mr Fulcher said: “Once Walker Close discharges someone they look for the community team to then become the carer and pick things up. They were saying to the community team, ‘this young man is ready to come out, what have you got?’ But all we ever got from the team was nothing. There was no crisis plan in place.”
Kieran was at the acute mental health ward Wedgewood House at the West Suffolk Hospital at Bury St Edmunds but has moved temporarily to Westfield House, near Dereham, which provides residential support. When a place is available he will move to Keys Hill Park, Wroxham, which provides care for people with mental health problems and learning difficulties.
Alison Armstrong, operations director for Suffolk at NSFT, said: “We cannot discuss specific details about a patient due to their right to confidentiality. However we continue to have regular contact with the patient’s family – at times on a daily basis to discuss the care and support offered.”
‘Prisoners in our own home’
It is every parent’s worst nightmare, seeing your child go through a painful situation and feeling as though you are helpless to do anything.
Mr Fulcher said his son’s mental health problems have had an impact on the whole family.
He said: “We feel like prisoners in our own home. We have to lock the doors and there are no knives in the house to stop Kieran hurting himself.
“You can’t function as a family. You’re just living on a time bomb, ‘when is this going to happen?’ and ‘what help are we going to get?’ It is just horrendous. I want to go back to work but I can’t.
“In all this we have a daughter Melissa who is 23. She feels as though she isn’t wanted and is feeling really low herself. She goes out to work and she comes home and we’re then going off to the hospital to visit Kieran. Our life has been put on hold. We can’t sleep at night. We sleep with one eye open waiting for a phone call and we are always constantly thinking ‘is Kieran going to be alright?’.
“I’m on anti-depressants myself just to keep me fighting for Kieran. You’ve got to keep up the fight. You can see I am not crying when I talk about this because I have shed my tears.
“Kieran was a lovely young man. He would talk and take the mickey. But the last two years he has just lost his way and he is now a shell. It is heartbreaking the things he used to do and like but does not do or like now. That is not our son anymore. Because of this thing going on in his head. I just want him to get the best care so we can have our son back with us.”
Kieran’s family are raising money to build a sensory room for him to use when he returns home.
To donate visit www.gofundme.com/www5kmq6
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