Whose best interest?

Coasting at the moment on the delight of having LB back to his old self. We really did descend into a hideous space over the past few months and, in the maelstrom that created, lost sight of the funny old dude he always was. I love the unit. (Rich keeps pulling me up on this. He says my bar is set so low, in terms of expectations of support, that I’m calling something good, brilliant. Ha! In some respects I don’t care. It’s fucking brilliant in my book. And I love it).

What I can’t quite get my head around, is this adult rights stuff. LB may, or may not be returning to school tomorrow. We don’t know. We don’t need to know (arguably). He’s an adult. His section 2 finishes on Tuesday. This was discussed at the team meeting last Monday; mental health, mental capacity and his right to choose to come home. We’ve openly said, and said to LB, that we think he’ll benefit from staying longer in the unit. He’s a bit hesitant on this, but not dismissing the idea. There seemed to be some agreement on this at the meeting. When he was admitted he “wasn’t right” (to quote someone whose known him a long time). In the last month, he’s been removed from any stress (other than being somewhere he didn’t want to be at the beginning) and hung out in an environment that’s comfortable, warm, clean, friendly, with good food, constant attention (or space to withdraw from attention) from people who seem genuinely caring and thoughtful. With family and friends close enough to visit on a daily basis. The contrast between everyday life and this unit are huge. The return to school, while staying at the unit, is a way of assessing how he manages life outside that space and, hopefully, offering him help with dealing with the bits of life he finds hard.

So, Tuesday. As far as I understand it, it’s unlikely he’ll be sectioned again (way too much of a chill bear for that now), and there is some hope he’ll voluntarily choose to stay in the unit for a bit longer. But when read his rights, and it’s made clear to him that he’s no longer detained, he may decide he wants to come home. The only way then to keep him in the unit is if a team (made up of all sorts of people including a family member as far as I can tell, though we’ve not heard anything further) decide he doesn’t have the capacity to make this particular decision and it’s in his best interests to assign? apply? smack him with? a deprivation of liberty safeguard (DoLS). [Sorry, I’m woefully unsure of the language/way in which these things are articulated]. When I think back to a train journey home from a disability studies conference last Autumn with a colleague who was leading a study on DoLS and trying to explain to me what they were, I’m reminded of the speed at which LB deteriorated.

I’ve absorbed the gist of DoLS through this leaflet produced by the Department of Health easy read information. Not an easy read emotionally. I’ve been worrying about Tuesday. At many levels. From the enormous – wishing/willing your child to be deprived of his/her liberty is pretty horrendous – to the basic practicalities; would we get a call to come and collect him by 7pm at the latest (I dreamt this situation the other night)? And if yes, what would happen if he started to deteriorate again?

Then, at a meeting on Friday about our experiences of the last couple of months, a health/social care manager said in passing that the community team would have been in touch to start discussions around LB’s care plan for his return home. Eh? Wha? The ‘community team’? What’s that? The Care Manager? Someone else? These questions underline how crap adult services are. Or how I shouldn’t expect to work full time, as the mother of a learning disabled young person and, instead, take the time to fully investigate these mysteries.

But nah. No one’s been in touch about that (community team or anyone else ‘official’). Leaving the meeting,  I gradually felt a sense of release. Not relief. We’re not going to have LB home without a proper care plan in place. We’re not going back to that place. We want him to come home. Can’t wait for him to come home with effective support in place. Support that’s supportive. And I don’t think that’s going to be sorted out for 7pm, Tuesday evening.

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