Justice for LB

Inspiring action to support people with epilepsy

Certitude colleagues confirm their commitments to supporting people with epilepsy
Certitude colleagues confirm their commitments to supporting people with epilepsy

Connor Sparrowhawk, also known as Laughing Boy (LB), was a healthy young man who also happened to have autism and epilepsy. On the 19 March 2013, he was admitted to Slade House Assessment and Treatment Unit run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Tragically, after 107 days in the unit, he drowned in the bath on 4 July 2013. An independent investigation found his death to be entirely preventable.

At Certitude we were truly saddened to hear of Connor’s death. As an organisation supporting people with learning disabilities and those who experience mental ill-health, we work to enable people to lead happy, rich lives.

That Connor and his family felt marginalised, isolated and unsupported by the care provided makes organisations such as ourselves surely question the care we provide. We decided to support the #107 days campaign, using this terrible event as an opportunity to discuss whether we are truly providing the highest level of care and support to people.

On Tuesday 3rd June, staff members from Certitude held a round table session to reflect on what lessons could be learnt from Connor’s death and to address how best to support people with epilepsy, balancing both safety and independence. Another focus of the discussion, which was sadly lacking in Connor’s case, was how to ensure families were central to the support given to their relative.

Chaired by Aisling Duffy, Chief Executive of Certitude, the round table included colleagues working directly with people with epilepsy, as well as a Board member who has a son with epilepsy. It was an open and honest session, celebrating what was good and acknowledging what could be better. Key to the discussion was appreciating that it was vital to work as a team with the person supported, their family and any relevant professional.

The importance of keeping families firmly in the loop and acknowledging the fact they know their relative best was also seen as crucial. Establishing with them what they want to know about their relative and when was also highlighted, as every family is different. Building a strong relationship based on trust was also seen as key in best supporting a person with epilepsy.

It wasn’t just an occasion to talk. There was a real dedication by those involved to take active steps towards their own personal commitments to better support people in our care. As a participant remarked: while we sadly can’t change the fact that Connor died, we can make a difference to the lives of other people with epilepsy.

Follow the 107Campaign and find out more about Connor and his family’s inspiring campaign.