Community Care has been contacted by a social care practitioner in Cornwall who had met Steven Hoskin, a man with learning disabilities who was murdered after agencies missed 40 opportunities to protect him. Here, the practitioner says that Steven would not receive a service under current eligibilty criteria and that voluntary agencies should provide support for people with lower-level needs.
For several years I have been working in adult social care in Cornwall. I met Steven Hoskin, as did some of my colleagues.
When you feel you have done your best and something like that happens, it takes some recovering from, especially when we are often reminded both publicly and in-house. I’m equally sure we have all asked ourselves whether we could have done more.
Ironically, if someone with a similar level of needs presented to us now, at a time when we provide services only to those with substantial or critical needs, we would not be providing services.
Earlier in my career I worked in a family centre for a voluntary organisation. We offered a drop-in to families, and we outreached into communities where social services directed us. In other words, we picked up those cases that the statutory agencies could not and offered a preventive service.
In Cornwall, we could do with a similar approach from voluntary agencies. In fact, we could have done with that kind of support over the past few years. The reports into his death show that Steven made frequent approaches to various agencies at different times, demonstrating a need and an uncertainty on his part as to whom to turn to. There was also an equal level of uncertainty on the agencies’ part as to whether they were “it”.
Voluntary agencies need to be brought into the discussions as to how many more Stevens there are throughout the country and what role they could take in meeting this low level of need.