'Somerset agencies failed' man with brain injury

Dave Alsbury Image copyright Headway Somerset
Image caption Dave Alsbury took his own life in 2014

A man who suffered from a brain injury who took his own life was not provided with appropriate support, a serious case review has concluded.

Dave Alsbury from Somerset, who died aged 43, suffered a traumatic injury in a road accident when in his 20s.

The report highlighted a "lack of joined-up working" between agencies and chances "to intervene" were missed.

Somerset County Council said it accepted the findings and said improvements had now been made.

After the accident Mr Alsbury was left with physical, cognitive and psychological issues, and he had a dependency on drugs and alcohol.

The independent report was commissioned by the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board (SSAB) after he killed himself in 2014.

'Opportunities missed'

The review concluded that, despite numerous contacts with many health and care professionals and the concerns of family members, he was not provided with appropriate support.

It highlighted "a lack of joined-up working across social care, health bodies and drug and alcohol services".

"No organisation took a lead role in determining a co-ordinated, multi-agency response and opportunities to intervene in an integrated way were missed," it stated.

Mr Alsbury's sister, Alyson Norman, said she welcomed the report's findings, but said there had been a "lack of knowledge of brain injury" and "a serious lack of understanding of the mental health issues" her brother experienced.

Image caption Somerset County Council said it accepted the findings of the report

She said there was a lack of interest in "taking any key responsibility" and the organisations "failed to work together".

"We were constantly, as a family, having having to be mediators in conversations and communications between organisations."

She added that a lack of funding was also a "key issue".

'Repeatedly failed'

Mr Alsbury was provided with support by Headway Somerset, which is affiliated to the charity Headway - the brain injury association, for more than 13 years.

Headway's chief executive Peter McCabe said the "tragic reality" was that Mr Alsbury was "repeatedly failed by agencies whose responsibility it was to protect and support him".

He said it was "vital" that all local authorities "take time to read and fully digest this report and learn the lessons contained within in order to ensure that no other brain injury survivors are similarly let down".

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: "We accept the review and its findings, and thank [Mr Alsbury's] family and Headway for the critical role they have played in it.

"The response to [his] circumstances, including the social work support, wasn't good enough.

"Everyone is committed to learning from this and improvements have been made."

They said social workers had received "further training about assessments" and there was "more scrutiny of practice and performance".

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