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Vulnerable man ‘abandoned’ and discharged from hospital into budget hotel

Exclusive: ‘He’s been pretty much abandoned. He’s a very vulnerable person and in need of support.’ says Jackie Mann

Rebecca Thomas
Health Correspondent
Tuesday 22 November 2022 18:08 GMT
(Hammersley Homes)

The government has been urged to protect “catastrophically” under-resourced mental health social services after a vulnerable man was discharged from a hospital into a Travelodge.

Will Mann, a 42-year-old with long-term mental health illness, was “abandoned” by social care services after he was discharged from an NHS hospital, his mother Jackie has said.

Speaking with The Independent, Jackie Mann, explained how Will, who had to declare himself homeless before his discharge this year, was told the only available housing accommodation for him was a Travelodge.

Mr Manns story has sparked warnings over the state of the shortage of social care and supported accommodation for those with severe mental illness, from the charity Rethink Mental Illness, which warned: “This is another reminder of how the crisis engulfing social care is impacting people’s lives, and why the government must protect mental health in the upcoming budget.”

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In an interview with The Independent, Jackie Mann, Mr Mann’s mother said: “He had to go straight from there to a Travelodge in Christchurch, which was a very unsuitable place because it was just a room, no cooking facilities.

“During the time he was there, nobody came to visit him, he was just sort of abandoned there and during his time there, he was told he had to leave the Travelodge and go to another one because that Travelodge was overbooked.”

“So he was sent off to another one... There was no transport there. That was just overnight he had to take, which was so they had to take all his belongings with him. In the end, the Travelodge had to agree to him storing some of his belongings until he came back.”

Ms Mann added: “There’s no choice in this, he’s told you must accept this accommodation. Because that’s all there is. He’s been pretty much abandoned. He’s a very vulnerable person and in need of support. We feel that the support just hasn’t been there. He’s been told to go wherever.”

He has since been put in temporary accommodation but has been told he must move again.

According to our major charity Rethink, the shortage of “appropriate accommodation” is one of the biggest drivers of delayed discharges for mental health patients.

The NHS has been granted £500 to help discharge people from hospitals which is yet to make the front line. It’s not clear whether this applies to mental health trusts.

Louise Hallett, chief executive of Hammersley Homes, an organisation providing outreach services to those with severe mental illness and their families, told The Independent there is a “revolving door” within mental health wards with patients discharged who then just deteriorate and go back.

She said: “Patients go back and back and back and we know that staying on a mental health ward costs 3000 pounds a week of taxpayer money and yet that cycle is never interrupted. We’ve got to interrupt that cycle and provide the support that keeps them stable and safe so that they don’t keep declining into the serious psychotic states, that can get them back into hospital and into trouble with the criminal justice system.”

Hammersley Homes currently has a long waiting list of people needing their support, says Ms Hallet she warned the situation Mr Mann has been left in “happens all the time.

She said there is a lack of accommodation in which people can be supported in the long term as most options only provide temporary housing.

Jeremy Bernhaut, head of policy and influencing, at charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “This is a real-life example of the human cost of mental health social care being catastrophically under-resourced, and it’s simply unacceptable that someone has been let down in this way.

“At such a critical point in their recovery, people need a safe roof over their head in appropriate accommodation, a comprehensive care plan and the reassurance that appropriate support is in place from community mental health services to help them stay well and have a good quality of life.

“The current shortage of appropriate accommodation is one of the main drivers of delayed discharge in NHS mental health services, meaning that people severely affected by mental illness are often stranded in hospital when they are ready to be discharged, their lives on hold because of a lack of social care. But hotel accommodation is clearly not the answer, and people shouldn’t be discharged into precarious or temporary accommodation at a time when they need stability and support. This is another reminder of how the crisis engulfing social care is impacting people’s lives, and why the government must protect mental health in the upcoming budget.”

Last week Emma Hardy, Labour MP for Kingston Upon Hull West and Hessle, challenged mental health minister Maria Caulfield on delayed discharges from mental health beds.

She said: “To deal with the problem in mental health, we need to deal with the problem of lack of adult social care placements. When will the Government be able to fix that?”

Ms Caufield said the government had started working on plans around delayed discharges this summer and admitted they affect mental health services.

A spokesperson for New Forest Council, responsible for Mr Mann’s housing, said: “Where clients have mental health needs resulting in the need for hospital care, our Housing Teams work very closely with the local mental health services to ensure they are discharged from hospitals with support, and into accommodation that is suitable and available at that time. In some instances, taking into consideration a particular client’s health assessment and the level of mental health support available to them (which includes the Council’s own Mental Health Practitioner), hotel accommodation can be an appropriate short-term solution.”

“Whilst a client is registered with the Council as homeless, our Housing Teams continue to work alongside local mental health services, or other services and voluntary groups as appropriate, to ensure that clients can manage in interim accommodation that is provided.”

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