Connie’s rehabilitation and seeking legal support

Jem, Dad of Connie, shares his experience of rehabilitation at The Children's Trust and talks about her legal claim.

In November 2013, our daughter Connie underwent corrective surgery for scoliosis which unfortunately resulted in complications and a life-changing spinal cord injury. She was left paralysed from the waist down and would require high levels of support and rehabilitation. Connie would require a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Finding specialist help

There were many decisions to make after this life-changing event and once we had begun to process what had happened, we were quickly engaged in conversations regarding rehabilitation and physiotherapy which would be provided within a specialist provision. We were visited by several care providers but the staff from The Children’s Trust immediately understood Connie’s needs, and their child-centred approach to discussing what they could provide was empathic and sensitive but also provided us, as parents, the confidence that Connie would be in good hands. Connie has some additional learning needs so The Children’s Trust’s specialist centre in Tadworth, Surrey, felt like it was an environment where Connie would receive the specialist care she required with a very hands-on and engaging approach and integration with other young people.

Starting residential rehabilitation

Connie was admitted to The Children’s Trust specialist centre in February 2014 with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. We were immediately struck with the lovely surroundings and the setting. Connie had her own room with beautiful views and the unit, Oak House, was a warm and welcoming environment that was very child-centred in its appearance and layout. The staff members were incredibly supportive and friendly, which helped immensely in Connie’s settling in period. As parents, we were provided with reassurance and the added bonus of accommodation whenever this was required. This was so valuable given we lived over 100 miles away and Connie was going to be at Tadworth for several months.

Seeing results

Connie had a very detailed treatment plan which included education, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and emotional support, and also a detailed transition plan to return home after rehabilitation. Her days were filled with a range of sessions and, primarily, the physiotherapy focused on rebuilding her strength, coordination and wheelchair skills. The results and progress were incredible, and we were able to see Connie grow stronger and more confident every time we visited. The staff team were also amazing, and Connie loved spending time with them and the other children and young people in the unit. They showed compassion and empowered Connie to become more independent. We were also provided with additional support with a social worker who helped us think about longer term plans and preparing for the future. It really felt there was a great team not just working with Connie, but with us as a family. Connie left Oak House in July 2014 and although excited about returning home, we were in some ways sad to leave The Children's Trust and the fantastic staff and support that enabled us to move on with our lives.

Making a legal claim

We instructed Irwin Mitchell in 2014 to represent Connie in a claim for medical negligence following Connie’s injury, and have been supported in this process by Connie’s solicitor Rebecca Cherry. Irwin Mitchell has provided an incredibly professional and supportive service to our family. Our case was very complex but Irwin Mitchell have shown expert knowledge, attention to detail and a personal approach. The solicitors acting on behalf of the hospital have denied liability throughout. However a settlement was reached in April this year whereby the hospital accepted they should accept some liability for Connie’s injuries. Irwin Mitchell is now investigating how much compensation Connie should receive, which involves Connie being assessed by a number of independent experts. These experts will make recommendations for what Connie will need in the future to enable her to be as independent as possible and it is hoped that the case will be concluded within the next 18 months.
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