"My experience in two units"

About: Knowsley Resource & Recovery Centre St Helens Hope and Recovery Centre

(as the patient),

Ok so I was recently a patient on the grasmere unit at Knowsley and St. Helens recovery centre.

I wasn't there for very long, four days - just to get my head straight. A quick turnaround agreed by both myself and my CPN.

Ok first of all lets start off by saying it wasn't that bad, the health care assistants where dotted around on the ward, whilst the nurses remained in the nursing office, or doing medication, or sitting in on reviews, which I guess is fair enough if they have their typing etc that they need to get on with, both nurses and nursing assistants where in my opinion easy to talk to, approachable and had the time if I needed it for a one to one.

The activity lady, was really nice and friendly - however she is leaving or may have already left by the time I have posted it. If she has left and nobody is hired to replace her, it will cause extra boredom on the ward that can lead to a number of things, especially as the activities took our mind of our problems for a short period and through drawing and artwork enabled us to positively express our feelings rather than the old fashioned self harm methods.

Ok now time for the negatives, firstly I think for hygienic reasons en suite is needed, especially in a psychiatric ward. I know that can't be changed overnight, there can be a lot of obstacles in the way - planning permission, financial aspect of a rebuild etc, but some of the times the toilets where not the most hygienic - that's not to say the domestic staff where not doing their jobs properly - they were up and down that corridor cleaning the toilets and bathrooms religiously but obviously between the 16 patients and one domestic - it's impossible for them to keep on top of rooms 24/7 and by the time the domestic gets round to the beginning again, the toilets are starting to smell badly at times. So I think that needs looking into.

Secondly on the day of my discharge I went to speak to a senior member of staff to complain about one the rules on the ward and I was upset by their attitude. To be honest although I tried to get my feelings and points of view across, the member of staff was too busy - the phone was ringing for them etc,

I could see it was not a great time to have their undivided attention for ten minutes so I left and thought 'yes even though my discharge review was at 4pm, I'll talk to the member of staff about my issues after lunch when the member if staff had perhaps a little more time on their hands'.

So the afternoon came and I thought right I’ll go and see the member of staff now, they offered me a seat, so I sat. I said to the member of staff that I didn't really feel like the member of staff was taking on bored what I was saying earlier, I know they were busy so I thought I would come back later, when things had settled. The member of staff said that was ok what's the problem, and also asked for another member of staff to sit in and listen if that was ok, I had no problems with that.

So I started with the main issue that had annoyed me. There is a rule - just at that mental health hospital under the 5 boughs that in order for you to eat lunch and tea, you have to be dressed in 'day time clothes'. I found this rule, especially with it being a psychiatric unit to be harsh and strange. So I said, so if I refuse to get changed out of my day time pjs I'm not allowed to go in and have any lunch or tea? The member of staff answered no - your meant to put daytime clothes on and then go and eat. So I said ok, I don't like eating in front of people anyways, can I have a sand which and eat it in my room? The answer was no. I asked why not as I didn’t think this was an over the top request and the member of staff said because depressed people might forget about the sand which and eat it on a different day when it has gone bad or out of date. I said I was not depressed, I was just hungry, so the member of staff said well you should have got into day time wear and eaten in the dining room. Then the member of staff unbelievably compared the psychiatric units dining room to that of a restaurant, believe me I could go on a rant about that but that's going off track.

So I asked to see this policy in black and white, I must admit I felt like the member of staff had an arrogant attitude towards me and I was starting to get wound up with this ridiculous rule. The member of staff said it was not written in a policy, it was just one of those unique hospital rules - I'm surprised they didn't say to visitors please take your shoes off before you come in - infection control you could spread germs.

I asked the member of staff who came up with these rules the member of staff said they interviewed 15 patients, then 15 before that, then 15 before that then 15 before that so altogether if a patient only stayed a week (which out of 15 patients is unlikely in a psychiatric ward) they are talking maximum 60 individual patients they interviewed and the majority said they would rather eat with people in their day wear during the day.

Maybe it's time to re interview, people who are depressed and feeling down don't want to get out of their pjs and I think they should respect that and if they wish to eat in their room because they have social anxiety disorder they should respect that too.

I said I've not had any dinner - now I'm not bothered because I know for a fact that I'm going home today but I think it's disgusting that you have a duty of a senior member of staff to feed us all and your failing in that', they then said no you don't have a medical problem where you can't get dressed it’s your fault you have had no lunch.

Then to my utter disbelief the member of staff asked me why I came into hospital.

I found this question utterly shocking and yes I was disgusted when he asked me. The member of staff should know the ins and outs of all the patients they should know at the very least why they were admitted to hospital.

I was actually sickened by the question I mean the a senior member of staff doesn't even know why I was admitted, hell I wouldn't mind if it was my first day and I'd never met them - I had been there four bloody days!

I told them, but by then I was really frustrated and the pyjama thing felt like the one last thing I could control (yes a bit of a control freak but hey it's better than being a mass murderer).

The member of staff then had the audacity to say if I was getting this agitated over pjs am I ready to be discharged, and I felt he was so smug when they were saying it - because the member of staff could see I was getting annoyed, but it wasn't just about this hospital rule - it was the member of staff and their attitude.

To me this member of staff was behaving arrogantly and lacking in support of a vulnerable adult, pushing my buttons to get a reaction, and I thought the bedside manner displayed to me was a train wreck. I've seen first year students who are more supportive and caring than he was, I think something needs to be done about this member of staff.

But apart from this member of staff, a really good team of down to earth considerate and approachable staff!

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Response from Katherine Earlam, PALS Officer, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments, I will ensure that they are forwarded to the Matron for Adult Services.

If you need any further help or advice please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Katherine Earlam - PALS Officer

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