"Stratheden Hospital - Lomond Ward and the IPCU - not fit for purpose"

About: Stratheden Hospital / General Psychiatry

(as a carer),

I am a carer of a family member who recently experienced mental distress and went into Lomond Ward, Stratheden Hospital. The staff seemed to be too busy to take time with my relative, the ward was chaotic and other patients were agitated and distressed. My relative ended up being restrained and forcibly treated, incurring an injury and being transferred to the IPCU, a locked ward.

Where my relative was locked in a room all night, no toilet or water to drink, with the injury and not knowing where they were. I was not informed of the injury until a few days later. When I did try to photograph the injury and the bruises, I was surrounded by 5 nurses who I felt bullied and intimidated me. And wouldn't allow me to use my camera.

The IPCU is 'not fit for purpose', according to the Mental Welfare Commission and yet it appears nothing has been done to improve the conditions for patients there. They are not allowed pens to write with, unless supervised by 2 nurses in the activity room, which is kept locked and only open at certain times. Most of the rooms in this ward are kept locked. As a visitor I had to enter by the back door, through a number of locked doors and the staff kitchen. Meeting with my relative in the dining room and overlooked by various staff, either eating a snack, passing through or even washing the floor around my feet.

Nurses in the IPCU even rolled their own cigarettes in front of patients. Meanwhile patients were left to their own devices in the smoking room. No-one to supervise them. Vulnerable patients at risk of physical injury and mental anguish. The only water available to drink was in the dining room which was locked, so no ongoing access to liquids.

My relative was transferred back to Lomond Ward. Where vulnerable patients were not properly supervised. One woman who had an observation room was found late at night in the male dormitory. My relative woke up to find her coming out from under his bed. No nurses to be seen. The police were often in the wards at Stratheden Hospital. Like sheriffs restoring law and order. But very distressing for patients and carers.

I think that some of the psychiatric nurses at Stratheden Hospital need training in de-escalation skills. How to reduce the mental distress of patients. Rather than using force and heavy handedness. Then there would be less need for police intervention. The nurses were often in the staff room writing notes, making phone calls, having meetings and chatting to one another. I saw little interaction with patients except when the patients queued up at the drug trolley, 4 times a day.

I have made a complaint to NHS Fife about the lack of duty of care, the poor treatment and human rights abuses, experienced by my relative in Stratheden Hospital. I am not confident of a fair or just outcome. I think that the voices of patients and carers are not respected and therefore the psychiatric establishment not accountable.

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