A DEVASTATED mum today told how it took social services almost a week to tell her that her son had died.
Disabled Michael Kershaw, 20, had been in care for most of his life after being born with the degenerative neurological condition Perlizaeus-Merzbacher Leukodrystrophies.
But parents Nicola Young and Mark Kershaw were told by a court they would be kept up to date with their son’s welfare. However, Nicola, 38, who is separated from Mark, was left devastated after finding out Michael had died – six days later.
She 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.”
Nicola, who now lives with husband Paul, 37, in Washington, is preparing a complaint against Sunderland City Council.
The mum finally got to learn of Michael’s death after her own mum Christina Mussett, 57, passed on a message from Mark, who had only been informed of the day before.
Mark, 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 claimed they had no contact numbers for the couple but both parents today said they could have been easily traced, with Mark’s number the same as it has been for the last decade.
Social services took on the care of Michael many years ago after Nicola began suffering severe depression.
Both Nicola and Mark continued to have full parental rights.
But when Michael turned 16 they were told he no longer wanted contact with his parents.
However, the couple were given a promise through Sunderland County Court they could get a monthly update on his well-being, although claim they struggled to get information.
Mark said: “I’ve been ringing for the last three years to find out what’s going on, they just pass the buck.”
Nicola, along with Mark, both attended Michael’s funeral service.
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 wellbeing 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.
“We will continue to work with Michael’s family and those who loved and cared for him during this difficult time and are always willing to discuss any concerns they may have.”
An inquest in to Michael’s death, on July 7 at an address in Ayton, has been opened an adjourned by the coroner.
A post mortem examination proved inconclusive and the results of further tests are awaited.