Case study: community care & older people

Authors: Mel Cadman & Kathryn Cameron
video transcript

Stage Three: Twenty weeks later

Mhairi has made a slow but steady recovery. She responded well to treatment and recovered enough speech for those who know her well to communicate at a fairly basic level. She is also able to mobilise for very short distances with a Zimmer frame. She has been able to communicate that she now urgently wants to leave hospital and her social worker has been working closely with Mhairi and her family to explore the options available.

After another assault on a member of staff the police were called to the Donald’s residential unit and he was charged. Following discussions with residential staff and an examination by a GP, an Emergency Detention Certificate (EDC) has been issued and Donald has been detained for treatment in the County’s large psychiatric hospital.

When the EDC expired, a Short Term Detention Certificate (STDC) was granted and Donald has remained detained as a patient. Shortly after being detained Donald made numerous allegations about being assaulted by hospital staff. However, when investigated, staff claimed that ‘bathing’ Donald could not be construed as assault; and that they have been using allowable ‘restraint’ techniques when he has become violent. More recently, a combination of drug therapy, better eating and some focused help with his alcohol problem has effected some change for the better.

The son who lives closest made arrangements for two short visits by Mhairi to see Donald in the hospital and these visits seemed to go reasonably well. Donald responded well to Mhairi’s obvious pleasure at seeing him. The psychiatric hospital team, including his social worker, think he may well be ready for discharge from compulsory intervention before its expiry date in the near future.

Stage Three: Reflective questions

  • Outline the statutory basis, key principles, personnel and process involved in compulsory detention of Donald, in both the immediate and longer term.
  • Outline the responsibilities owed by the social work services agency in relation to these episodes of detention.
  • What rights would Donald have to challenge, appeal, seek redress and complain about his detention and what part might a social worker play in this?
  • Which ‘authority’ would deal with the complaint about Donald’s treatment?
  • What processes exist to review any order with a view to terminating it early?
  • What particular responsibilities would the mental health officer have in relation to Donald’s discharge?
  • What entitlements would the couple be owed in relation to planning and supporting their discharge to their son’s home?
  • What entitlement would their son have to support in accommodating and caring for his parents?
  • How could their son ensure that he was able to make competent decisions on his father’s behalf?
  • In general, what rights would Donald & Mhairi have to ensure their views are fully considered in every decision made about their future?