Tuesday, 18 December 2012

what will it take to bring about real change inside the wards at Stratheden?

Cultural change is difficult to bring about, especially if it's been going on for a long time, is ingrained and it's in a psychiatric institution.  Where there is compulsory treatment leading to the use of force.  And it is condoned.  When mental welfare commission recommendations are ignored and things go on in the same old way, undisturbed.

Waiting in a queue for medication is one example.  The MWC says in their Adult Acute Wards report 2010, page 5, that "this does not afford confidentiality or dignity to the individual and ward managers should change this outdated practice".  It's still happening in Lomond Ward, Stratheden, for a female patient told me this recently.  She also said that, although not under the mental health act or detained, was told she could go no further than the gate.  And she had no money on her to buy anything from the shop or go anywhere.  

A woman about my age, articulate, employed, with family.  Treated like a child by clinical psychiatric staff.  As if mental distress or ill health means a person has lost their capacity to think or act.  Of course the clinical staff at Stratheden like to think that anyone entering these walls are without capacity.  It means they can do what they like with them, patients and carers alike.  A justification for disregarding the person and bullying them into submission.

Entering Lomond Ward means leaving any autonomy at the door.  Although an open ward the patient is restricted and restrained, and is handing over their freedom.  To think, to act and to be treated as a proper human being.  With rights, an opinion and an identity, apart from psychiatry.  For the regime in this ward is like something out of a fairy tale.  Enter then at your own peril.  It could lead to the locked ward if any signs of resistance or refusing to take the jag in the bum.

It's risky for everyone but especially for women.  In female dormitories overlooked by male patients in single rooms.  Where men are free to enter the female dorms without challenge.  For nurses are nowhere to be seen.  Or so it was last March when I was in the ward.  And I've no evidence or proof that this has changed.  I'd need to hear the testimony of patients to believe that change has happened.  Nurses saying so won't do it for me.

The clinical management are meant to be starting a 'patient safety group' and some of us users and carers are meant to be on it.  I use the word 'meant' because months have passed and nothing has happened about this.  Par for the course.  All talk and no action.  It's been my experience of nearly 5yrs of 'involvement' in Fife mental health matters, psychiatrically speaking.  They say they are listening but nothing changes.  I raised many concerns in 2010, about the acute situation in Lomond Ward.  Result being that I was bullied and intimidated in 2012 by staff at Stratheden, for daring to speak out.

For they have no intention of changing what they do, the clinical nursing staff inside the wards.  Because they are getting away with it.  And have done so for many a year.  Why should they bother putting the mental health act principles into practice?  What's in it for them?  They would have to put patients and carers first.  Heaven forbid.  It would be too much like hard work.  And they would have to move themselves out of the comfortable staff room in Lomond where they have jolly times together.

I'm being cynical and speaking tough words.  But for me the time of action has come.  I'm not speaking out about human rights issues in psychiatric care just for the sake of it.  I am in it to bring about change, real change.  So that patients and carers, service users and family members are respected, treated with respect, listened to and given their place.  Person-centred clinical practice and safeguards that are safe.  Nothing less is good enough, in my opinion.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

music while you work

I stopped by Stratheden today, Sunday, about 1.30pm, and had a chat with some of the folks (patients) who were waiting for the church service to start.  Suddenly there was loud music, sounded like a disco.  I went to explore, it was coming from a car stereo, door open and what looked like a worker, in full uniform, hoovering out their car. 

So I carried on into the hospital canteen, past the new sign for the clinical effectiveness team (mental health quality improvement), bought a can of fizzy.  Noticed a group of catering staff sitting at the tables, enjoying their lunch.  Came back out again, saw the worker backing out of the car, he did have a hoover in his hand.  I asked him to turn the music down as the sound was deafening.  We could hear it a few hundred yards away.  He did as I asked.

A great job if you can get it.  Music while you work and hoovering your car in the break.  No need to change your uniform.  It reminded me of the day hospital staff and the fish van.  I've worked in the voluntary sector, also for the council, in Fife and Perth, and at FE colleges.  And I don't remember it being like this.  Doing your shopping and hoovering your car on the job.  But then I've never worked for NHS Fife.


Friday, 7 December 2012

benches and bins, open doors and wintry weather

IPCU to the left, offices behind
There seems to now be only one bench left in the Stratheden grounds, outside the IPCU, ward 4, front door.  See photo taken recently of bench with paper cups left on it.  The other benches are being refurbished, so I've been told.  I've suggested bins beside all the benches, when they reappear, so that people are able to put any rubbish in the bin.

I also would like to see bins with metal bits for stubbing out cigarettes, for patients who live on the grounds and have to smoke within the grounds.  Of course it's different for staff who don't have to live in the hospital and can go home at the end of a shift or go outwith the grounds to smoke.  Remembering to bin their butts appropriately and not leave them lying around on pavements or outside the hospital gates.


note the ice on the ground
shop counter screen
Then there is the fire door always tied open in the Ceres Centre shop.  Now it's winter and to sit there with a cuppa or having a chat is very chilly, to say the least.  Although the shop assistants now have another screen up which will no doubt keep some of the heat in their bit.  So it's just the patients and visitors who will have to wrap up warmly.