18 months on, Holloway mum still waiting for severely autistic son to be brought home from institution 70 miles away

Leo Andrade with her sons Joshua (left) and Stephen back in 2014.

Leo Andrade with her sons Joshua (left) and Stephen back in 2014. - Credit: Archant

A distraught mother is still waiting for her severely autistic son to be moved from a mental health facility 70 miles away – 18 months after being told it was happening.

Leo Andrade’s son Stephen, 23, is detained in an assessment and treatment unit (ATU) in Clacton-on-Sea – where he is on eight anti-psychotic medications and regularly self harms.

As reported by the Gazette in July 2016, Leo’s Bring Stephen Home campaign looked to have been successful when she was told he was being moved to a unit closer to her home in Rixon Street, Holloway – but then his psychiatrist advised against it.

Islington social services, care provider Islington CCG, and NHS England (NHSE) are working on Stephen’s case, and a house where he could live with 24-hour care was eventually bought in Hillingdon.

After a wait of five-and-a-half years, Leo was expecting him to be move in November last year before problems arose with adapting the home. The date has now been pencilled in for May.

“I feel very let down,” Leo told the Gazette. “He’s stuck in an institution 24/7. I was told after the first delay work was starting in December and then discovered it wasn’t, because of funding.”

To make matters worse, Stephen broke his clavicle in an incident with a carer last summer and is now begging her to come home whenever he sees her.

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“Ever since, it’s been incredibly hard,” Leo added. “There are incidents every day where he’s hurting himself badly and attempting to hit his carers.

“It absolutely breaks my heart. He’s so sad. If sadness could kill, he’d be dead. He begs me: ‘Mummy, can we go home to London?’

“The drugs are destroying him. You can’t cure autism – it’s not like he has cancer. But all their answers are to inject him. It makes him totally catatonic.

“How is the NHS paying for eight meds to be administered to a young person with autism?”

Islington Council and the CCG issued a joint statement saying: “We are working with the NCL Transforming Care Programme team and NHS England to make arrangements for Stephen to move into his own home as soon as is safely possible. The extent and complexity of the adaptations required are much greater than first estimated. All parties are committed to arranging the significant capital investment.”

NHS England said it had agreed funding for a contribution towards the adaptations.