Mom’s desperation as she struggles to extend her son’s foster care break

A MOTHER, in urgent need of help for her disabled son, is frustrated because her family is still not considered an emergency, prompting criticism from Hove MP Peter Kyle.

Meredith McGill contacted Brighton and Hove City Council for urgent help caring for her autistic 14-year-old son who has complex needs after her husband Scott, 55, suffered a heart attack.

Last year she received a letter from council officials canceling her son’s respite care to make way for an emergency.

But despite her husband’s ill health and her son’s need for two-on-one support when he leaves the home, she is frustrated that her family isn’t treated in the same category.

The letter sent out last year by the Council’s ‘Disability Services Professional Communities’ team read: ‘I am writing to inform you that it is due to a full-time emergency placement beginning 31 August 2021 at Drove Road , on changes and cancellations of ( your son’s) staying at Drove Road.

“We apologize for this situation as we recognize that it is likely to impact you and your family.

“We are working hard with this young individual, her family and her providers to allow the Drove Road service to return to normal, although we cannot set a timetable for that.”

The Argus: Mrs. McGill's son when he was youngerMrs. McGill’s son when he was younger

Mrs McGill’s son, who she declined to name, is routinely cared for four times a month at a specialist residential home in Drove Road, Portslade, to give his parents a break.

He cannot speak and has severe learning disabilities and multiple anxiety disorders.

Three weeks after Mr McGill’s heart attack, the council provided two extra nights of respite care for the teenager and an extra day at Extratime holiday club for special needs youth.

Ms McGill said: “My husband and I have always only been interested in short term recovery but we have no idea what short term recovery means. Nobody will clarify.

“In terms of ‘ongoing support’ we have so far only received two extra days of rest at Drove Road and one cancellation, resulting in an extra day at Extratime Holiday Club.

“I wrote to Disability Social Services on July 17 asking for help and we still have nothing but those three days.”

Ms McGill has had support from her MP Peter Kyle, who pledged to “move heaven and earth” to get the family the support they need and to raise the issue in Parliament with the Health and Social Care Secretary bring to.

Mr Kyle said: “I am shocked to see what this family has been through and to learn how the system has failed, failed and failed again.

“It’s not okay to leave families in crisis without a plan of action – and the public would be amazed that this is happening.

“There is clear evidence that the emergency rule has been withdrawn and nothing else put in its place. How can that be 2022?

“It takes a serious accident, serious injury and trauma for disability services to take action – and I don’t say that lightly.

“I will continue to raise this in Parliament and on the ground in Hove. We just have to start funding these services properly.”

The Argus: A letter received by the McGill family informing them of the decisionA letter received by the McGill family informing them of the decision

The council said: “We recognize that the McGill family is under acute pressure at this time and we are making every effort to work with the family and be responsive to their needs.

“Emergency beds for dormitories are not available locally or nationally in the form required by the family.

“There have been instances in the past where we have offered emergency accommodation longer than a normal recreational stay on Drove Road.

“Every family and every young person that we support has different circumstances and individual needs. As a result, we differentiate our answers.

“In the case mentioned, there were exceptional circumstances in which we had no choice but to place a child due to our legal care obligations under the Children’s Act.

“However, Ofsted has made it clear to us that it does not consider Drove Road suitable for anything other than a short-term respite.

“We remain committed to working with the McGill family to provide ongoing support.” Mom’s desperation as she struggles to extend her son’s foster care break

Fry Electronics Team

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