At the end of February 2010, after Steven had been in the Unit 8 weeks, I wrote to the social worker and asked her to look into the matter of Steven's clothes. They were either disappearing, being shrunk in the industrial washing machine or being ripped by one of the other residents.
I got no direct reply but here is the infamous email that she sent to other staff on Steven's case:
"There is always going to be something or other that Mr Neary will bring up and
more often than not we are having to appease his needs rather than Steven's,
however I want Steven to remain at [the support unit]. I know that it seems that
you as a team are constantly being questioned but this will be the case because
Mr Neary wants to find issues with the care that other people give Steven. We
just need to ensure like we have that we are working together for the best
outcome for Steven."
This is what the judge had to say about the email:
"It is now accepted by Hillingdon that Mr Neary had done nothing
to deserve this disrespect. The unfortunate tone of the message demonstrates
that even at this stage the expression "working together" did not include
working together with Steven's father in the true sense and that Hillingdon's
thinking had by this stage become adversarial. Worse, the professional view was
withheld from Mr Neary, perhaps because revealing it would have provoked a
renewed challenge. In the meantime, a "transition plan", ostensibly leading
towards a return home, was put into place. It started on 4 March, with four
phases: (1) 4/6 weeks of return home on Monday afternoons, (2) 4/6 weeks of
return home on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, (3) the above plus Saturday
afternoons at home, (4) the above plus a couple of overnight stays before a
final return home. It was not until 8 July, by which time the four phases had
been successfully accomplished, that Hillingdon told Mr Neary that it was not
willing to return Steven to his care."
I'm glad the judge recognised this. I'm delighted that this part of the judgement is now regularly used on social worker training courses as an example of how not to do it.
But it is the perfect example of the nonsense of the claim that "we work in partnership with families". Like LB's time in STAT, we were sidelined as a family. I was seen, at best as a nuisance, obstructing Hillingdon's plans. At worst, I was lied to, just so that the professionals could get their own way.