"patient or criminal - distressing time at Sherdley Unit"

About: Knowsley Resource & Recovery Centre

(as a carer),

my wife went into hospital with a psychiatric illness needing help and came out a criminal. my wife, during a ward round thinking she was on the mend and due for discharge, was told she wasn't ready. This distressed my wife and brought her to tears, on re entering the ward she approached a group of nurses/helpers in her distressed state to seek help/comfort, only to be told to go away and get in her room (remembering my wife is suffering from a psychiatric disorder). She was now very distressed at not being allowed home, she slapped the nurse, though she later apologised when calm. Three weeks later on arriving home after discharge, she was arrested and taken to police cells and charged with assault. This was a very distressing time, not only for my wife, but for myself as her carer trying to keep her calm and not being re admitted straight to the hospital. lessons are my wife has lost confidence, and nurses should be aware of critical times on ward and handle situations better to avoid criminalising patients.

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Response from Dennis Dewar, PALS Co-ordinator, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust

We work to create a therapeutic environment conducive to supporting people through their time of distress. We no longer ignore any instances of violence on a ward, be it towards a service user, carer or member of staff and every incident is recorded and monitored. While we do not refer every single instance to the Police we do report when we believe it is appropriate. It is then up to the criminal justice system to decide if a person should be treated as being responsible for their actions or not.

I’m sorry that you feel the staff could have done more to calm this situation. As a Trust, we can not ignore any instances of violence and have worked hard to ensure that all our staff have the skills necessary not just to handle difficult situations but also to defuse them where possible, before they become violent.

The good news for everyone who uses our wards is that our actions are proving successful. Our twin approach of dealing fairly and effectively with every single violent incident alongside the improvements we have made to our inpatient facilities have led to a marked reduction in violence on the wards. This can only be beneficial for all service users, carers and staff.

Our staff constantly review how difficult situations on the ward might be best dealt with and we will certainly use your posting in an anonymous way as part of this ongoing process. We would like to thank you therefore for your valuable posting.

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