A month or so ago, Kevin Healey, a campaigner on autism issues who is very active on Twitter, mentioned that a young 20 year old woman with severe autism and challenging behaviour has ended up being separated from her family in Swansea, Wales, and placed in a mental institution in Brighton. Yes, you read that right, in Brighton. Why?
Because the professionals decided that was the best course of action.
Clare Dyer was detained under Section 3 of The Mental Health Act 1983 (c. 2007), on 9th September of last year. Since then, she’d been able to carry on taking part in community and family life in Swansea, her home, and where she felt comfortable and safe, all whilst receiving the care that she needed for her severe autism, which would sometimes cause outbursts when sensory overload took place. The troubles started when her hospital was changed to Northampton, she struggled to cope with the huge change to her routine. Add an incident when she managed to escape from her safety harness on a bus, this caused the professionals to detain her, and not let her out. She hasn’t been out on proper walks since October 2013.
Section 3’s grounds for detaining a patient is on the basis of the severity of the patient’s mental disorder. However, one of the exemptions to the act involves learning difficulties, someone with a learning disability can only be detained under the act if the disability causes ‘abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct, including mental health disorder compulsions alongside the learning disability’. Clare was probably detained under the act on these grounds, due to her challenging behaviour caused by her struggle to survive in the outside world, with a debilitating disability.
To try and combat the professional’s decision to send Clare away, her family took the case to high court. On August 1st of this year, however, the judge overruled their concerns, and Clare was whisked away to Brighton Mental Health Hospital that same day, without giving her family the opportunity to say goodbye. This action was against both Clare and her family, although Clare is severely autistic, she could still use her voice to say ‘no, I want to stay home’.
In Brighton (a five hour drive away from Swansea), Clare is only permitted two hours a week of outsider contact. This is a nightmare for her family, who have to make the drive down just to see their daughter and sister. Forbidden from using her iPad to facetime her deaf sister, as she is only allowed to make phone calls, she cannot communicate with members of her family in a way that is suitable for all parties. Skype is meant to be set up, but as far as the family and campaigners are aware, this hasn’t happened as of yet. She is bored and lonely, in a place that she never wanted to be in, after being promised in February 2013 that she’d be placed in a care home close to home, so she can have regular access with her family.
This is unacceptable. There are notes from the Clare Dyer website, set up by Kevin, that talk about the fact that she was getting better with her family at home, all this move has done is made everything go backwards. More harm than good. Her family even asked for her to be removed from the act, but the professionals refused. Yes, it’s tricky to live with severe autism, and the challenges it brings. But shouldn’t someone be with their family, no matter the circumstances? People made that mistake with me, and I’m not going to sit by and allow this to happen to someone else.
Please sign the petition, and get the professionals to finally listen to Clare and her family and bring her home!
Here’s a link to the website that Kevin has set up. Hoping that things go better from here on in.