"Iris Ward"

About: St Helens Hope And Recovery / Iris Ward

(as the patient),

I was a patient on Iris Ward recently. I had heard so many great things about this psychiatric ward and my expectations of it were high. My experience however, was far from good.

On the ward there is something called "Therapeutic Time" where staff (ALL staff) are supposed to spend time with the patients. this can be doing activities, having a quiet word etc. IT was always the students who did this. Staff never gave up their time during Therapeutic time to see how their patients were doing - REASON? too much paperwork and not enough time for high quality care!

Confidentiality - hardly anything was private or confidential. Other patients knew about my care, my diagnosis, my observation levels, my problems - because they overheard staff talking about things.

Physical health - this was completely overlooked and I would sometimes have to wait a full day to get painkillers while i was in excrutuiating pain, while other times i did not get anything. Though I understand that staff are reluctant to give out tablets, they go too far.

Attitudes - staff attitudes were very negative most of the time. many people complained about the same staff members on that ward (consultants included) but were too ill to put in a formal complaint. Yet mention any names to other people within 5BP and see what happens.

Truth - what happens on the ward and what staff reported back to the consultant was not true half the time - which proved they just write or say what they think is the right thing. I was told that staff reported I was communicating well and getting on with other patients. This could not have been further from the truth as I spent most of my time in my room and only spoke to anybody else when i had to.

ACUTE CARE - it is emphasised that Iris Ward is an acute care ward only. This was one of the reasons staff were keen to get me discharged (whether i was better or not). Yet there are patients who have been in there for months. What exacly IS considered ACUTE? and what happens if you are not feeling better or ready to be discharged after this time-period?

my suggestions?

staff need to listen more and be more aware of their patients feelings and thoughts.

there need to be more staff nurses on duty during one shift as well as more assistants to ensure patients receive high quality care.

Patients need to be given an idea of how long they will be in hospital and what will happen during their stay.

Staff should be more careful about what they say and who they say it in front of. They also need to be aware of certain patients who stand at the office door and listen in to their conversations.

If a patient is prescribed medication and asks for it with good reason they should be listened to. Again more staff nurses should be on duty so there are adequate amounts of staff ready to administer medication on request and not just at the stated ward times.

Staff need to be more positive towards their patients and should take the time to listen carefully instead of telling patients how they "should" feel. PAtients should not be blackmailed by staff by having to listen to "you are hurting your family" etc.

Remember - if somebody is ill then they need care and empathy. They don't need to be told they can't stay in a place that is Safe for them at that time because their time is up on the acute care ward. All they want is time to recover and somebody to listen - really is that so much to ask for?

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Response from Maria Slater

Thank you for your comments, it’s very important for us to get feedback such as this for our service to continue to develop.

I’m pleased to hear that, prior to your admission, you had received good reports about the ward. However, I am very concerned that you have had a negative experience while on the ward.

In light of your comments and suggestions I have met with the Ward Manager, Service Manager, Lead Consultant and Modern Matron and we have agreed the following plan:

• CDP (Coalition for Disabled People), a well established advocacy organisation from St Helens, will run regular community meetings on the ward, so that service users can any discuss directly with them any issues or concerns they may have.

• Your comments will be presented to both service user meetings and staff meetings for their feedback and input.

• We will review the ward leaflet to include information about staff roles and what to expect from Therapeutic Time.

• We will continue to actively pursue developing our relationships with other agencies, such as the Social Inclusion Group, to increase activities available on the ward.

This all builds upon ongoing work on the ward designed to improve service users’ experiences.

The ward has been working towards achieving Accredited In-patient Mental-health Standards (AIMS) and Essence of Care (EOC) standards and was assessed as meeting level 1 of the standards by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in September 2008. A big part of this work involves seeking Service Users and Carers views.

I would like to close by offering the opportunity for us to possibly meet up in order to look at how you can be included in staff and ward development. I would like to inform you that the Trust has a PALS coordinator, Dennis Dewar (tel. 01925 664450), who would be happy to assist you in making a complaint or supporting you to become involved in the Trust’s Service User & Carer Involvement Scheme.

If you would like to discuss this matter further please do not hesitate to contact myself, Maria Slater, Head of Service St Helens, on 01744 458571.

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Response from Dosti

I have noticed a post titled 'Iris Ward' from about 6 months ago. There is a response (from the Head of Service at 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust) which gives a very clear plan of the changes they intended to make in light of the comments in the original post. Is there any way of finding out if these changes have been made? I know I could ask the person directly as they have included a phone number, but I would prefer this to be open and on your site. It would be great if some of the users of that service, or the Coalition of Disabled People or the Social Inclusion Group (agencies mentioned in the response), could let us know whether the plan has been carried out. Please could you find out?
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Response from St Helens Coalition of Disabled People

Many thanks Dosti and St Helens LINKS, for bringing the above posting to our attention. The St Helens Coalition of Disabled People were not aware we had been mentioned in any previous posting, and this has been brought to the attention of 5 Boroughs.

I can only reply to the issues brought up in the previous posting in which our service was mentioned. The St Helens Coalition of Disabled People have 2 Mental Health Advocates, both with experience of working in acute settings. I have asked one of the advocates to give some details of the work they do, please see below:

"The Mental Health Advocacy Service provides support and guidance to people who do not feel able to do this for themselves. Our service is independent and confidential. We visit the hope and recovery wards every Wednesday, or as and when required. We have requests from patients and staff to attend ward reviews to ensure clients understand fully the information given to them. We also signpost clients to other services such as CAB, Benefits Agency, Housing, and further support them through this process.

We currently attend community meetings on the wards as independent observers, and hopefully offer positive input to these meetings. These meetings are a great opportunity for clients to air opinions regarding their stay. These meetings also highlight issues on the wards, positive and negative, that we can then work together to resolve."

(Linda Sinclair, St Helens Mental Health Advocate, May 2009)

We also run a Self Help Development Service, which offers advice and support to mental health self help groups operating in and around St Helens, a Supported Employment Service and Direct Payments Advice service.

As I have said, I do realise other organisations were mentioned, however, I could/cannot comment on these. I do hope this goes some way to answering part of your query. If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the St Helens Coalition of Disabled People, 01744 453343/01744 677054, and a member of staff would be happy to discuss further.

Many thanks

Alison Brook

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