"A lack of compassionate care in mental health services"

About: Barnet, Enfield And Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust / Adult mental health

(as the patient),

I was admitted eventually to Chase Farm Hospital suffering from depression two weeks ago, and I must say that the experience of the lack of care, support and attention leaves a lot to be desired.

95%/96% of all the staff were from Afro/Caribbean or Asian backgrounds, many with difficulty with the English language and the level of communication was at all times minimal. I am Caucasian, there were only two Caucasian members of staff. In my opinion, they were the only people who made any effort to communicate at all with me.

There were people with all sorts of problems from Depression like myself to Drug and Alcohol dependence. The only communication that took place as far as I was aware was at mealtimes, when everyone was informed that meals were being served.

I felt that the rest of the time was spent ticking boxes on sheets to confirm that the patient was present and was breathing. Apart from the dispensing of medication, it felt to me like all other communication was kept to a minimum.

As if the above was not enough, what concerns me most was the fact that despite the written promise from Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental NHS Trust on their "Caring for you in Hospital" and "Caring for you in your Home" information for patients, I was told absolutely nothing about the Home Care available in my area, who it was I should contact and some of the contact numbers no longer exist.

If this is the state of the NHS Mental Health Care in the Community, I have no hope for us all. In my opinion it is staffed with people who seem to have absolutely no training in compassionate care and Patient communication - similar to the current news story about the care, or lack of, for the elderly. I think this needs to be addressed urgently.

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Response from Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust

Dear Patient,

We aim to treat our patients with kindness and compassion, in a friendly environment that has a positive effect on their recovery. We are sorry to hear you do not feel this happened during your stay.

We employ staff from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds across our services, mirrored in the diversity of our patients. On this occasion we regret that you felt that it was only Caucasian staff who had the ability and necessary skills to communicate with you, but we can assure you we use a vigorous recruitment process, including patient representation on our interview panels. This is to ensure Trust employees have the right qualifications, experience and skills to do their job, regardless of their ethnicity.

The Trust is also committed to ensuring staff communicate with patients effectively, to positively contribute to their recovery. The Trust’s 'Talk well' programme, focused on training and improving existing communication skills amongst staff at all levels, is one of the ways we try to ensure this happens. There are also a broad range of therapeutic groups, daily protected engagement time for staff to spend time with patients and regular ward community meetings for patients and ward teams to discuss any issues.

We receive lots of positive feedback about the care we provide on our wards, and place high value on staff development. However, we are committed to continually improving and developing our services to meet our patients needs, so if you did not have a positive experience, we would urge you to contact us directly.

For more information on contacting us and how we can help, please visit our website: www.beh-mht.nhs.uk/ccc