Hackney mother’s anguish as agencies ‘wash hands’ of son with paranoid schizophrenia who broke down in Dominican Republic
PUBLISHED: 09:03 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:45 26 April 2018
The family of a man with who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia have questioned how he was encouraged by his carers to travel to the Dominican Republic – where he is now stranded after having a mental breakdown.
Vincia Hurtault, the mother of the 35-year-old man who the Gazette has chosen not to name, claims she only found out he was on the Caribbean island a 12-hour flight away on March 11 – a week after he went.
He ran off from the airport after missing his flight home and stopped taking his medication – meaning eight weeks on he is in a paranoid, incapacitated state.
Despite not having had a say in the trip, the family feel the agencies involved in the man’s care have “washed their hands of him”.
He had already gone AWOL in the Dominican Republic in 2014, when repatriating him cost the family £10,000. They cannot afford to shell out again, they say.
When Ms Hurtault contacted staff at Angel Support Living, which manages her son’s supported living accommodation, to complain, she claims a member of staff said her son had been “planning the trip for months” and he had personally given him £500 spending money and driven him to the airport.
Ms Hurtault, from Victoria Park Road, told the Gazette: “If they’d called me and said should they sanction this holiday I would have said no – I know my son, he’s not going to take his medication.
“We are worried sick about him. People found him in the streets sleeping rough and he was taken to hospital on a stretcher. All his money is missing, and all he has is a pair of underpants. They sent us a video and we could see him rolling around on the floor in the mud wearing one shoe.”
“I can’t take much more of this. I can’t. I am having sleepless nights. He’s the only child I’ve got.”
She believes her son should never have been encouraged to travel and is calling on the East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT), where the man receives medical treatment, to take responsibility for bringing him home.
The man’s care plan states he has a history of absconding, hallucinations and homelessness when unwell.
The Gazette spoke to the member of staff at Angel Support Living who admitted to us that he did take the man to the airport, helped him catch his plane and gave him money to book his hotel as well as spending money.
“We didn’t make that decision (for him to travel). He’s a free man and he can go wherever he wants in the world,” he said. “We all take risks. We might go on a plane, and the pilot could have a heart attack and die. He went away a on holiday, that’s all.
“He is of capacity and he can travel,” he said, adding: “We all took the decision for him to travel. He’s alright. He’s safe.
“I made sure I gave him money and he was going to be safe when he got there.
“We did whatever we had to do, this was something that was co-ordinating everybody. If you are an adult and you have the capacity to take decisions and make risks, that’s your problem.
“We care. I’ll tell you how I care, is that I’m talking to everyone. I’m talking to the ambassador to deal with it, to make sure he is safe and his health and is being seen by the doctor, I’m spending a lot of time on this.”
A spokesman for the ELFT said: “Due to issues of confidentiality, we cannot provide personal information about the circumstances of any individual. We are working closely with the family, the Foreign Office and other authorities to support this gentleman.”