A year ago, 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk was admitted to Slade House, an NHS assessment and treatment unit in Oxfordshire.
Sparrowhawk, who had autism, a learning disability and epilepsy, lived at home and went to a special school, but was unsettled and agitated. His family thought assessment at the seven-bed unit run by Southern Heath NHS foundation trust would help secure the right support for the teenager.
Instead, less than four months later on 4 July 2013, he was found unconscious in the bath at Slade House and died. A postmortem showed he had drowned, probably as a result of an epileptic seizure.
The trust initially attributed his death to natural causes, but an independent investigation demanded by Sparrowhawk’s family concluded his death could have been prevented.
Its damning report, published last month, states that Sparrowhawk’s epilepsy was not properly assessed or managed. It further found there was no adequate supervision at bath times, no family involvement in his assessment and care, no effective clinical leadership and no proper attempts to engage the teenager in activities.
Sparrowhawk’s mother, Sara Ryan, a senior researcher and autism specialist at Oxford University’s Nuffield department of primary care health sciences, says: “We thought it [the unit] was safe. Connor lived at home with us for 18 years – 107 days in that place and he was gone.”
A social media campaign, Justice for LB (Sparrowhawk’s nickname was Laughing Boy), launches its 107 Days drive to raise awareness every day until the anniversary of his death.
Slade House is now closed, its patients moved to alternative care, and disciplinary hearings for seven staff are due this month. An inquest is expected and healthcare regulator Monitor is investigating the trust. In November the Care Quality Commission (CQC) failed Slade House for all 10 quality and safety standards. CQC inspectors have also found failings at two of the trust’s other facilities, an Oxfordshire care home for people with learning disabilities and a mental health unit in Southampton.
Article written bytheguardian