"Superheroes in Blue uniforms with green fingers"

About: The Knoll Hospital / East/West Community Mental Health Teams The Knoll Hospital / Huntlyburn Ward

(as a service user),

I have been under the care of the MH services for the last 5 years after being diagnosed with complex PTSD and Dissociative disorder. Mental health services are still the cinderella service of the NHS and I am acutely aware of how lucky I have been to get the level of support that I have. I know of others who are probably as needy as myself that have not had the same level intervention. 

For me, the care that I have received has been transformative. It has literally saved my life, and allowed me to move forward with my life at peace with myself and accepting of my past. I was first picked up by MH services and allocated a CPN following the birth of my son 5 years ago. My CPN has been my rock and without her I don't think I would still be here. She is honest (even when I don't necessarily like what she is telling me!) And I trust her to be a true advocate for my best  interests when I'm not well.

I've had several crisis admissions since my diagnosis to Huntlyburn acute MH ward. I remember my first admission vividly. I had all of these preconceived ideas about what a mental health ward would be like. I was scared. I couldn't have been further from the truth.

The ward is bright and modern, with wide open corridors, open outdoor space, community areas, a kitchen, washing facilities and pretty much everything you would need. I've stayed in worse student digs and hotels!! I had arrived with nothing, so I was given a set of pj's, soaps, toothbrushes etc and shown around. The individual rooms are all ensuite with a bed, desks, drawers and a safe to lock your valuables in if you wish. The staff were all incredibly friendly and went out of their way to ensure that I didn't feel alone. You have a named nurse on each shift who is given allocated time to speak to you but you can ask for a chat any time that you need.

Over my various admissions the staff have made a massive effort to accommodate my needs when I'm struggling, providing appropriate staff that I felt safe and comfortable with. Many of them went above and beyond what was required to help in my recovery and to put me back together again each time I thought I couldn't keep going. I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude. 

One of the things that I didn't expect in a mental health unit was the access to outdoor space. There is a courtyard in the middle of the unit that is maintained by both patients and staff, as well as an allotment. Both of these outdoor spaces made a huge difference in my recovery when I was struggling. Being able to get outside made the admissions feel less claustrophobic. Having the allotment, where you could go and just potter and get as involved or not as you felt able to was great. It gave my days meaning and a sense of purpose when I was struggling with the basics of getting up, washed and dressed, and feeding myself because I had no motivation to do something for myself. Being able to watch the seeds I had planted sprout and grow gave me a reason to get up each day, to check on them. It brought me out of the darkness and helped me transition back into my life again. I helped grow the plants. The plants helped me to grow too. It is a wonderful asset and I hope it is expanded upon in the future. 


Response from Philip Grieve, Operational Manager, Mental Health, NHS Borders 2 years ago
Philip Grieve
Operational Manager, Mental Health,
NHS Borders
Submitted on 27/02/2018 at 09:38
Published on Care Opinion at 11:22

Dear Deloo3a

Thank you so much for taking the time to describe your experiences that you have had with the mental health services within NHS Borders. It sounds as if you have had a really difficult time and I am so pleased that your CPN is such a valuable support to you. Your kind words and feedback make such a difference to the staff who have supported you and will definately pass this on for them to see. The allotment is still in progress and its fantastic to hear how this has contributed to your recovery. I hope you continue to get the benefit from the allotment and support from our services in the future. Take care.

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