I feel the utmost sympathy for everyone involved in this very unfortunate situation. I only knew Andrew by sight as I am a regular visitor to the site at Ridge Hill where Andrew lived. My child also lives on the Ridge Hill site and I am fully aware of the position that carers are in and the responsibility and burden they carry.
I have been involved for almost fifty years with disabled people with every form of physical and learning disabilities. I know many carers and their clients and witness the bond between them. I am also aware of the pressure that the carers are subject to by the constant hassle from Health and Safety and Occupational Therapy.
I experience, first hand, on many occasions just how regulations are grossly interpreted and common sense not prevailing. Carers work with the threat of the slightest minor mistake resulting in suspension or dismissal. I have observed the steady exit of experienced carers and the influx of new carers who are trained to strictly observe rules and regulations.
The ladies who cared for Andrew had looked after him for many years and in a non-thinking mode treated him like an ordinary human being and gave him a snack. A silly and fatal move and now they have the rest of their life to regret it. A casual action, manslaughter, a criminal act? Was it planned, does it justify a custodial sentence?
They knew the rules, regarding feeding Andrew and just how many times could these rules have been ignored, familiarity……… The law is the law, rules broken, punish them, end of story, no mercy shown.
Some years ago I accidently gave my child an overdose of her drugs, not realising that my wife had already administered them. Panic stations, dash to hospital, thank heavens no consequences to answer to. However, if this action had resulted in very serious consequences what would have happened to me? How would I have been treated? A criminal record???
Dealing with human beings with learning difficulties is indeed a very specialist profession. Hospitals are unable to cope or understand them. Over the years we have battled with various specialists and consultants with very little progress being made. Today without exception the administration is more concerned with the rules than caring. In the last decade caring has become very clinical and residential and care homes appear to be more like institutions.
As chairman of a local charity we raised thousands of pounds providing facilities and transport for local respite centres. We were ordered to stop doing this as the authorities would not train the staff to use and drive the transport provided.
A total of three minibuses were seized and auctioned off and much equipment disappeared. Day centres were closed and many users were sent out into the community and I was shocked to find local people objecting to having these ‘users’ living close to them.
Nowadays, carers and their clients seem to be hounded by Health and Safety and I have observed unnecessary wastage of funding due to rules being thoughtlessly applied. Caring as we used to know it is drifting away. Andrew’s carers are paying a dreadful price for their momentary lapse, they will never forget that fateful day.
Mr L Ambrose