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I've just been given responsibility for my Gran's mental healthcare. What does it all mean??

(6 Posts)
plinkduet Fri 22-Jul-11 16:53:55

Although close to my Gran when I lived in the same town through my 20s, I moved 200 miles away about 10 years ago and have only visited a handful of times due to not driving and having two children since then. She is a recovering alcoholic and has mental health issues.

Myself and my cousin are her only living relatives. My cousin stopped contact many years ago out of choice due to events connected with the alcoholism and refuses further contact. He lives 200 miles from her.

However, I have now back closer to my Gran's town and for the last two years been settling into my new life with my two young children (4 and 2) minus their father, made a few enquiries as to my Gran's location, sent cards and photos of the children, but had no response back from her. That's normal, her dignity is holding her back as she is once again in a mental hospital (I dont know the correct term for these places).

But yesterday I received a completely unexpected phone call from someone calling themselves an 'advocate' from MIND charity, a pleasant enough conversation but pressing me for lots of detail on my Gran's character in order someone (who? I didnt quite catch, healtchare professionals) can sumbit an assessment.

I've since had several phone calls again from MIND and another professsional connected to my Gran, the just of which I'm starting to deduce means that my answers are contributing to this very important Assessment.

I had no dealings whatsoever with my Gran's care it was always done by her late daughter so I'm clueless about everything. But it's as if they have suddenly discovered there is a living relative after all this time and they can pass liability for my Gran's care onto me instead now.

I dont mind taking on the responsibility, but I'd like to be educated first sad

I am guessing they are due to make an Assessment on whether my Gran stays in some kind of serious care for the foreseeable furutre or not? Does that mean unless I say otherwise now, she will be kept in a mental hospital when there might be other options available to her?

She has been sectioned before due to the drink and put in mental homes for a spell, but although she's nearly 90 she has amazing constituion, is healthy and can cook and care for herself, I suspect however because she has an unpredictable nature and can rebel vocally sometimes physically against authority over her, they dont want to risk putting her into a general care home or sheltered housing as she might upset residents, so they'd like to keep her drugged up and lifeless in a loony bin sad

Does anyone have similar experience with an elderly relative, ie sole responsibnility to them who might be able to help educate me a little, I'd be so grateful? I know there are enough resources online, but personal experience might arm me better in what I think is going to be a very complicated new responsibility in my life.

PlentyOfPubgardens Fri 22-Jul-11 17:22:56

First thing to say is you will not be expected to be responsible for your Gran's care.

The mental health system can be very scary and kafkaesque - it can be very difficult to make yourself heard effectively and this is where advocates come in. The advocate has no authority as such, she/he is there to help your gran articulate what she would like to happen and to help ensure her rights are respected and her wishes are heard and taken account of.

Is your gran under section at the moment (in hospital against her wishes)? It's likely the advocate is trying to gather information in order to support her through an upcoming assessment or tribunal where decisions about her care may be made without her consent. If your gran is not very communicative or coherent at the moment, the advocate will be grateful for any extra info from those who know her, especially a relative who knows what she's like 'normally'.

The decision of what happens to her won't be down to you or the advocate - it will ultimately be down to the HCPs conducting the assessment but they should take all the information into account, including what the advocate says.

If I were you, I'd get back in touch with Mind and ask for an appointment to see her advocate. Discuss your fears and ask for clarification on what's happening.

Good luck.

plinkduet Fri 22-Jul-11 17:40:11

The term 'section 3' was mentioned several times, I dont know if that means she's under section in the hospital, but yes there does seem to be a very important assessment upcoming.

I will take your advice on the advocate appointment, thankyou, that seems most sensible at this stage.

PlentyOfPubgardens Fri 22-Jul-11 18:22:09

OK, section 3 allows for compulsory treatment in hospital. It comes up for renewal after 6 months so she could be already on this section and be due for renewal. Or, she could be currently on section 2 which allows for a compulsory period of assessment in hospital - up to 28 days - and the upcoming hearing would be to have her transferred onto section 3 for longer term treatment. Or, she might be appealing against a current section 3, in which case the upcoming assessment will be a tribunal. The advocate should be able to explain exactly where things are up to. Be assured they can't just lock her up and throw away the key - the 6 months of the section 3 is the longest they can go without reviewing her case.

I've just found this factsheet for Nearest Relatives on the Rethink website. Looks like you have quite a few rights, but no enshrined responsibilities as such.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Fri 22-Jul-11 18:43:02

It does sound like you have been identified as the Nearest Relative. Under the provisions of the Mental Health Act the Nearest Relative has to be consulted during the Mental Health Act Assessment and beyond.

You won't be expected to take responsibilty for your Gran though.

madmouse Fri 22-Jul-11 20:15:25

This sounds harsh (but coming from a stranger that is hopefully ok!!) but you do not have to take responsbility for her care if you cannot reasonably do so. There may be some natural pressure from social services/health professionals because it is very helpful for them if a relative is involved. But you need to be realistic in the light of your own commitments. But the previous poster may well be right and it may be limited to a MH Act assessment.

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