Nina, a young woman with mental health issues, was living in an adolescent unit close to her family home where her mum, grandmother and two younger brothers lived. When Nina turned 18 she was moved to an age appropriate facility, but the only bed available was 200 miles away from home. As she was now living so far from home, Nina’s mum and grandmother had to take turns visiting her, using public transport. It took them a whole day to make the trip and is very expensive. Nina stayed in the new facility for over a year. Her two younger brothers were too young to make the journey so Nina doesn’t see them at all during this time. Nina’s mum has mental health issues too and had to arrange childcare for the young brothers to visit her daughter.

Nina was very distressed by losing contact with her younger brothers as they had previously had a very strong relationship and she misses them. Nina started self-harming. The hospital has a rule stating there will be no family visits within 48 hours of self-harm, this led to even less family access and her mum and grandmother’s visits being cancelled at the last minute.

Nina has an Independent Mental Health Advocate, Donald, supporting her. Donald had been trained by the British Institute of Human Rights and recognised that this was a human rights issue.

With Nina's consent, Donald arranged a meeting with the social worker. Donald explained that this is interfering with Nina’s right to respect for family life, protected by Article 8 in the Human Rights Act. The social worker had been trying to get this resolved for months, so was pleased to hear that she might be able to use Nina’s right to family life to get things moving.

The social worker and Donald worked together to write to NHS Clinical Commissioners to challenge Nina’s placement. They explained in the letter that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has a duty to respect Nina’s right to family life, and the impact on this of Nina's situationwhich had, by this time, been going on for 18 months. The letter pointed out that the CCG weren’t doing all they could to protect this right.

Within a few days the CCG had sent a different doctor to assess Nina. Within two weeks of the assessment, Nina was transferred to a unit closer to home. As it was within 40 miles of her family, it was close enough for her brothers to visit and Nina will be able to have home visits. As a result Nina is much happier.