‘Something has to change’: Mother campaigns for major social care reforms

Watch: Theresa Hammond speaks to reporter Kit Bradshaw about her campaign

A mother from Kent is calling for major reforms to adult social care, following the “devastating impact” lockdown restrictions had on her daughter. 

Theresa Hammond wants families of those with learning disabilities to be better consulted about their loved one’s care, and has launched a petition calling for a new official to oversee the process. 

The former social worker, from Headcorn in Kent, was unable to see her adult daughter – who lives in supported accommodation – for 7 and a half of the past 18 months.

Ms Hammond says she “wasn’t listened to” when she initially raised concerns about the mental health impact the visiting ban was having on her daughter with the care provider and Medway Council. 

“Restrictions were put on her that she wasn’t allowed to be part of my bubble, I wasn’t allowed to visit her, she wasn’t allowed to come to see me”, Ms Hammond told ITV News Meridian.

Medway Council has apologised to Theresa Hammond for “not acting more proactively” to address her wider concerns about her daughter’s care.

Ms Hammond believes she wasn’t properly consulted about other changes to her daughter’s care during lockdown, and feels she “wasn’t listened to” by those in charge. 

She wants the government to create a new post of ‘Adults Disability Commissioner’ to advocate for parents in similar circumstances.

“I’ve got the energy, I’ve got the confidence to fight and to get my voice heard. What about other families, who haven’t got the confidence, haven’t got the energy. What about those families? What about those young people?”

Ms Hammond says it took repeated requests and letters to bring about changes. The local authority, which commissioned the care, has now apologised for “not acting more proactively” to address the issues, while the care company told us it followed government “advice and recommendations”.

Her daughter has in recent weeks moved to new supporting living accommodation, with care provided by a different organisation. 

  • Watch: Theresa Hammond explains the impact of lockdowns on her daughter

In a statement, a Medway Council spokesperson said: “Keeping Medway’s vulnerable residents safe in Medway’s care homes and supported living arrangements was an important priority during the pandemic. Care providers put extra safety measures in place, in line with government guidance, to protect residents, their loved ones and staff. 

“We understand how difficult this situation may have been for the family, however, these additional measures were introduced by central government to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 amongst vulnerable people in care settings and save lives. 

“We have met with the resident’s mother and apologised for not acting more proactively to address their wider concerns. We have used the learning from this incident to enable us to take steps to ensure issues such as this, do not happen again in the future.”

In this case the care was provided by a private company but commissioned and paid for by Medway Council.

The private company which previously provided care to Ms Hammond’s daughter, told us in a statement: 

“The health and wellbeing of our clients was paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that the pandemic caused their lives to dramatically change and, as a company, we put measures in place, which adhered to government guidance, to ensure we were protecting our clients, staff and all involved.

 “We worked collaboratively with our clients, their networks and families to ensure everyone was fully informed. Any support given to our clients during the pandemic was in line with government advice and recommendations.”

Hundreds of people have so far backed the online petition calling for an Adults Disability Commissioner for England. Credit: Change.org

Theresa Hammond's online petition has so far attracted more than 500 signatures.

The government published a National Disability Strategy in July, which set out its vision to improve the everyday lives of people with disabilities.

 A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told us that it’s “committed to the delivery of world-leading social care for everyone who needs it”.