ATU Challenge - Bethan’s Choice
Bethan had been living in an ATU for 2 years. She knew what she wanted and she and her family were trying to get the best outcome. But things weren't moving and Bethan was, on her 18th birthday, going to be moved into an adult service. Thankfully, Bethan's advocate was able to escalate Bethan's situation until, supported by NHS England and her local MP, Bethan was moved into her own supported living flat.
Bethan is 17. She is very close to her family and wants to live closer to them. But, she doesn't want to live with them. She wants to live close by, independently, but be supported to learn life skills, to go to college and gain a practical skill like plumbing or grounds keeping.
After she suffered a trauma, Bethan had problems controlling her anger. Her family weren’t able to manage her behaviour and she has been living in an assessment and treatment unit (ATU) for 2 years. She has been working hard to control her anger issues and other behavioural issues stemming from her learning disability.
Where would I go?
When Bethan turned 18, she would be forced to leave the hospital and go into an adult service. She didn’t know where this would be or what would happen to her at that point. She asked for some answers from her social worker but wasn’t getting any response. She referred herself to a VoiceAbility advocacy service.
To start with, Bethan was very reticent. She had a hard time trusting people and didn’t feel that anybody listened to her anyway. The advocate spent time with her over several weeks, building their relationship and getting Bethan to open up about what she wanted. Together they told staff what she wanted to achieve and where she wanted to live. The staff were happy with the plans and Bethan looked forward to moving.
It's not good enough
Over the next few weeks, the advocate chased the social worker but was informed that no work had been done.
Bethan’s advocate, with agreement from Bethan, made a full and formal complaint to the social services team and NHS England. NHS England helped escalate matters and Bethan’s situation was prioritised.
A new social worker met with Bethan and she, with her advocate’s support, spoke once more about what she wanted. Bethan was presented with options for Bethan and the advocate helped her look at each possible placement and she was able to decide which was best for her. There were still challenges with funding, as Bethan’s preferred placement was in another local authority and Bethan’s advocate decided that more senior intervention was needed. She supported Bethan to exercise her right to meet her local MP and together they raised an alert with him about the situation. Within days, Bethan had her funding and was going to move nearer to her family.
A future to look forward to
Bethan has now moved into her own supported living flat, near to where her family live, and is extremely happy. When we started working with her, she found it very difficult to speak about what she wanted and didn’t think that anybody wanted to hear from her.
Working with an advocate, Bethan has found her voice. She now knows that people do care about her and about her future. She now has a social worker who cares, a home where she is supported and the opportunity to do what she wants with her life.
A change indeed!