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page 5, that "this does not afford confidentiality or dignity to the individual and ward managers should change this outdated practice".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.