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Council Took Six Days To Tell Mother Her Disabled Son Had Died

August 15, 2012

This is just shocking.

Social services took nearly a week to tell a mother her disabled son had died it was revealed today.

Michael Kershaw, 20, had been in care for most of his life after being born with the degenerative neurological condition Pelizaeus-Merzbacher.

But despite being estranged from their son, parents Nicola Young and Mark Kershaw were assured by a court they would be kept up to date with his welfare.

 But, Ms Young, 38, who is separated from Mr Kershaw, was left devastated after discovering Michael had passed away – six days after his death.

Social Services claimed they had no contact numbers for the couple but both parents argued they could have easily been traced.

Ms Young, from Washington in Sunderland, said: ‘There was no reason why they couldn’t have phoned.

 ‘They have the contact numbers for myself and my ex-husband. It’s been a nightmare.

Ms Young finally got to learn of Michael’s death after her own mother Christina Mussett, 57, passed on a message from Mr Kershaw who had been informed the day before.

Mr Kershaw, 39, of Roker, said: ‘I was distressed, I went on my hands and knees when the social worker was on the phone telling me, it was more anger.’

Social services took on Michael’s care many years ago after Ms Young began suffering severe depression. Both she and Mr Kershaw continued to have full parental rights, but when Michael turned 16 they were told he no longer wanted contact with them.

‘I was distressed, I went on my hands and knees when the social worker was on the phone telling me, it was more anger.’
Mark Kershaw, Michael Kershaw’s father

However, the couple were given a promise through Sunderland County Court that they could get a monthly update on his well-being. They claim they struggled to get information.

Mr Kershaw said: ‘I’ve been ringing for the last three years to find out what’s going on, they just pass the buck.’

Ms Young, who now lives with husband Paul, 37, is preparing a complaint against Sunderland City Council.

The council’s executive director of health, housing and adult services, Neil
Revely, said: ‘We sympathise with Nicola and other family members at this sad time.

‘Michael had lived with foster carers both as a child and with carers as a
young man for most of his life, and over the last few years there has been
little contact from his family.

‘This meant inevitable difficulties with updating contact details of the
various family members who lived apart. Throughout this time Michael’s well being was always of paramount importance to us.

‘We worked with Michael, his carers and family, to ensure that the care and
support he received was in his best interests and in accordance with his
wishes.

‘Michael’s sad loss has affected everyone who looked after him.’

Both Michael’s parents attended his funeral service. An inquest in to his death, on July 7, has been opened and adjourned by the coroner.

A post mortem examination proved inconclusive and the results of further tests are pending.

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