For 359 days, I lived with the daily fear of Steven coming to some terrible harm. It used to keep me awake most nights. I used to build up awful fantasies of receiving phone calls telling me that he'd either gone missing, had been arrested or was dead.
From day one, it was clear that Steven was experiencing dreadful emotional harm from being in the Unit. His behaviour was a clear sign of that. He was so sad, confused and anxious. However, I felt confident that once he was back home, we could start to repair the emotional harm that had occurred.
My bigger fear was that he might come to some physical harm. This was before, the incident that I wrote about in an earlier blog about the attack from the member of staff. One of the residents bit Steven's arm early on. It was very deep and Steven kept picking at the wound. It took nearly two years for the hole to clear up and even now, Steven has the scar of that encounter.
I worried that Steven's naivety would lead him into trouble. One afternoon whilst I was visiting Steven, one of the other residents was trashing his bedroom. He had been at it some time and had punched a hole in the wall. Steven was intrigued by this and wanted to see what was going on. It was a constant fear that Steven's natural curiosity would lead him into danger.
In the summer of 2010, the Unit cut back on staff and there were several times when there was just a shift leader and one other member of staff there. The shift leader used to shut herself away in the office doing endless paperwork, leaving the other poor sod to manage four residents. That scared me too.
I also knew that the Unit and the social care team generally were pretty loathe to take responsibility for their part should anything go wrong. We'd had the incident at the airport when Steven got arrested but I never got any acknowledgement that the support worker had left Steven on his own for 15 minutes. Similarly, the incident with the vicar's glasses that led to the first DoL - there was never any acknowledgement that the Unit failed in its duty of care that day and allowed Steven to wander unsupervised out of the Unit. I knew that if Steven caused harm to anyone whilst he was there, he would be arrested and all the blame would be put on him.
I had some therapy whilst Steven was away but it was very circular. I'd go along and talk about the latest news and my latest fears but couldn't really get any resolution because as the therapist said - my fears were not irrational - they had shown themselves to be real time and time again.
That's a hard way to live your life for nearly a whole year. And that's just my fears. God knows what Steven's fears were.