This is an interactive post. We are asking for some audience participation. For an hour or two, we are asking you to step into the shoes of the dudes whose stories we have told throughout our campaigns.
A few weeks ago, 7 Days of Action was approached by a mother whose son is currently being detained in an in-patient service.
The hospital is owned by the Huntercombe Group. The name sounded familiar and then we remembered that Huntercombe owned the assessment and treatment unit where Stephanie Bincliffe lived for seven years before her death in a padded room. Stephanie had no exercise or fresh air and was fed through a hatch. She put on 10 stone in weight during the seven years of her incarceration. That particular ATU, Lynden House, has been closed since December 2014.
Here is the website for the Huntercombe Group:
The group have adopted as its mission statement the strapline:
“Nurturing The World – One Person At A Time”.
The mother who contacted us told us about her son, Tony Hickmott. Tony was first admitted to Cedar House in Canterbury when he was 24 years old. Tony is now 40.
Tony has been detained for 16 years.
Read it again – 16 years.
We have since been introduced to another two families who have sons in the same unit and their dudes have each been detained for 10 years.
That’s four people we know who have been detained in a Huntercombe Unit and the average length of stay is 10.75 years.
That is a heck of a lot of nurturing, although I don’t think “nurturing” is the word the coroner would have used when describing Stephanie Bincliffe’s care at her inquest.
In his mother’s words, this is what Tony’s life is like in Cedar House:
"My son is in two rooms. One is a bedroom and another is a room with a table bolted to the ground and a heavy small two seater sofa . The bedroom has a bed, the same small sofa and small T V covered in plastic, which is always dirty and has to be cleaned before it can be watched. We’ve tried to make the room more homely and put family pictures in. His medication and food is given to him through the window. The staff have told us they don't go into the room for their own safety. As the Unit is short of staff and cannot have someone with Tony at all times , they have installed a camera and classify him as being on “high dependence watch”. Tony has to bang on his door for staff attention. He has kick marks on the door trying to get the staffs’ attention when he needs drinks or toilet paper”.
This is what we are asking from you.
We want you to consider 16 years.
Think about the life events that occurred in your life between the ages of 24 and 40. (If you’re not yet 40, just count back 16 years from where you are now).
Think about how those events shaped you and imagine what it must be like for Tony being denied those significant rites of passage.
Think about how you might have felt if you’d missed some of those life opportunities because you’d been sedated and restrained in an assessment and treatment unit.
Please take some time out of your busy day and just……imagine.
This is me between the ages of 24 and 40:
Thank you for your forbearance and input.
It’s hard being Tony Hickmott.
In this post we want you to think about Tony who has been in a hospital for 16 years.
We want you to think about the things he has missed.
Like having a home
Like going to concerts.
Like going on holiday.
and getting married.
Tony has missed all of these life events and lots of others.
We think it's tough being Tony.