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I was very happy to see her”: Garth’s story

5 January 2023

Garth’s mum used to phone him every day - until suddenly the calls stopped.

Garth* is a huge football fan in his late fifties. He has lived in a care home since a brutal attack some twenty years ago left him with brain damage and epilepsy. Garth’s memory is very impaired, and he’s been assessed as lacking the capacity to decide where he lives. Garth has a brother and sister who rarely visit, but the real rock in his life has been his mother Avril, who faithfully phoned him every day – until the calls suddenly stopped.

Jenny was appointed as Garth’s Relevant Person’s Representative, to make sure someone was speaking up for his rights. Garth told Jenny that his mother didn’t call him any more, and he was worried about her.

Finding Avril

First, Jenny asked the care staff what they knew. 

They said that Garth’s mum Avril had been unwell herself and possibly gone into another local care home. 

At her next visit, Jane learned that Garth’s sister Sarah had let the care home know that Avril was very ill, and named the care home she was in. The home said they had heard nothing more and now they weren’t sure if Avril had died or not – but they hadn’t called Avril’s care home to find out, or followed up Sarah’s request to arrange a visit. 

Jenny called Avril’s care home to see how she was, and to see if contact could be re-established. 

Jenny also spoke with Sarah. She said her mum had vascular dementia and her memory was failing, but she always recognised her kids and always asked after Garth. 

As Sarah didn’t drive, Jenny asked Garth’s care home if they could support Garth to see his mum, and suggested contacting his solicitor if this would require additional funds for extra staffing or to hire specialist transport. The nurse said that funds were not an issue, and they would see what they could do – but 40 days later, when Jenny visited again, she learned that no such visit had been arranged.

Right to a family life

Jenny reminded staff that Garth had a basic human right to a family life, that his mother had maintained daily contact for many years and nobody could be sure how much longer she had left. However, they did know that she currently remembered Garth and wanted to see him, and Garth wanted to see his mother. Jenny also reminded them that they had reassured her that funds were not a problem. 

On Jenny’s next visit, she was able to confirm that Garth had been taken to see his mum at her care home.

Garth showed Jenny a photograph of him and his mum taken during the visit to her care home. They both looked delighted as they sat holding hands. Garth said, I was very happy to see her.”

* To protect people’s privacy we don’t use their real names, but their stories are genuine.

What is a Relevant Person’s Representative?

A Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR) is an impartial, independent voice for a person who has been deprived of their liberty in a care home or a hospital.

The RPR may be a family member or a friend. Alternatively, they might be like Jenny: a professional advocate, who visits regularly to listen to Garth’s views and wishes, and support him to have his views heard.