Sunday, 27 October 2013

don't put your wives and daughters in the psychiatric hospital near me (Stratheden)

When my son got out of the Stratheden Hospital locked ward 4/IPCU with the locked seclusion room at the end of February 2012 he was put back in the Lomond Ward where he'd been cornered in a room by 3 male nurses and had to break his own hand to escape.  I kept a close eye on him, visiting the ward every day, taking him out on passes.

They put him in one of the two male dorms, not the quieter one.  I got him moved after the guy waiting to go to court on an assault charge was put in the bed opposite my son.  This guy seemed to have the run of the ward.  He was often in the staff room using their phone.  He seemed to be a favourite of the staff.  I suppose like attracts itself to like.  Bullies to bullies.

After I got my son moved from the noisy bay and from the team led by the staff nurse who assaulted my son on 1 February, it was easier for my son in the ward although he wanted home as soon as possible.  The treatment in the IPCU had traumatised him.  He had stood up to bullying and human rights abuse.  It had taken its toll.

Other male patients weren't so fortunate.  After they stopped locking my son in the room and were forcibly drugging him, they locked another patient in.  This man, same age as my son, had been in and out of Stratheden for years so was used to the "cooler" which had a light switch on the outside, patient inside left in the dark.  

This guy had been in the State Hospital.  He, along with many other Fife IPCU revolving door patients, were used to the dehumanising treatment there.  They expected nothing different.  In February 2012 he eventually was sent to a more secure ward in Ayr and spent over a year there.  

I saw him recently at Stratheden, he's now in the new low secure unit.  He was asking after my son and we reminisced about my son being locked in the seclusion room and what happened.  He was proud of what my son did, standing up to the treatment by the nurses.  He talked about his mother who is the same age as me.  I've know this guy for a few years now and it's not been easy for him.

Back to Lomond Ward March 2012.  In the quieter dorm one night my son was sleeping when suddenly he was woken up by a female patient coming out from under his bed.  He asked her if she was OK.  She said nothing and went out again.  I spoke about this to a staff nurse the next day.  They checked the notes and confirmed matter-of-factly that this had happened

This female patient was in the observation room, a very unwell woman, who used the toilets in the corridors without closing the door.  My son alerted me to this, I reported it.  But I wasn't hopeful of her being looked after properly.  Soon after this the woman disappeared or absconded or probably just wandered out of the ward unobserved.  Very easy to do this in Lomond Ward.  It seemed that the nurses really couldn't care less.

In 2010 when my son was a Lomond inpatient there had been a young female Russian/Armenian student from St Andrews who had been brought into the ward by the police.  She was in the observation room, on 24/7 obs for a time.  She wasn't keeping her clothes on.  I knew this because the nurse watching her kept telling her to put her clothes on.  

The male patients walking back and forward could hear this also.  I could see through a gap in the curtain that she was in her underwear.  No doubt other folks passing could see the same.  There was little dignity in this ward.  I raised a number of concerns in 2010, didn't take them to a complaint.  I was particularly concerned about the safety and dignity of women in this ward.  

No doubt this is why my son and I were targeted by staff in 2012.  Badmouthed, bullied and subject to human rights abuse.  Thankfully I don't have daughters.  But I have two younger sisters and a mother who experienced psychiatric treatment, fortunately not in Fife.  

I have links with a number of universities in my role as a survivor activist and carer.  A senior nursing lecturer spoke to me in late 2012 about his experiences working as a nurse in Stratheden about 30 years ago.  When women were forcibly given ECT with no respect for their dignity, their private parts uncovered.  This guy has been in education for a long number of years but the memory of this still stays with him.  

At the time I asked him not to tell me any more.  My mother had many courses of ECT against her will in Murray Royal Hospital, Perth, in the 50's and 60's.  I couldn't bear the thought that she might have been subjected to this type of abuse.  Or that my sisters might have experienced similar.  My mother never went into detail about it but voluntarily took the depixol depot until the day she died. 

My advice, don't put your wives and daughters into Lomond Ward, Stratheden, it's a very risky business.  Bad history.  Bad medicine.  They might not come out of there alive and kicking.  It takes a strong person to withstand abusive treatment, disrespect and neglectful care.  

And if you raise any complaints be very careful how you do so.  In my experience they don't countenance complaints at Stratheden.  They are not accountable and haven't been for many a year.  It's an oppressive system that has been allowed to get away with it.  But their days are numbered.


Friday, 25 October 2013

here's what I saw and heard the other day in Stratheden

[update 8 December 2013, I've been told they are going to deal with the urine smell.  Finally]

I dropped by the Ceres Centre in Stratheden Hospital the other day, to say hello to an OT who had contacted me by Email.  I went first into the shop area which has tables, chairs and sofas where patients sit and pass the time of day.  Especially the long-stay or "left behind" patients.

And right enough there were a few of them sitting or snoozing.  I noticed that nothing had been done about the toilet doors that open out on to the lounge area.  No spring to automatically close them, still cardboard labels saying Mens and Ladies.  But if one is occupied then the other will be used, regardless of gender.




They've put down a new carpet in the lounge area but the smell of urine still persists.  I think it must be in the floorboards or coming from the toilets.  The patients will have got used to it over the years.  That doesn't make it OK.

The patients were telling me that they were getting moved out "into the community".  Glenrothes and Newburgh, it seems.  No choice, or at least only a choice between the two.  The woman who I've spoken to a lot and who wants Burntisland, where she was born and brought up, where family members live, isn't getting what she wants.  

With £1.5 million for the 'Stratheden Rehabilitation Redesign Programme' you'd think that at last the patients would get person-centred care or choice.  But no, it looks like they will all be herded into units where they can be kept an eye on "in the community".  After years of chemical lobotomisation the forced treatment continues.  Locked doors of one sort or another. 

No surprise there then.

However I spoke to one male patient who said he isn't for moving.  Stratheden's been his home for many a year.  He knows everybody and knows what's going on, and is a campaigner for justice in the confines of his environment.  He told me that there is money sitting in a fund that should be for patients, from when there was a user-led collective advocacy group in the hospital.  I'll need to check this out.

Now we don't have independent advocacy in Fife.  The statutory agencies did away with the user voice.  Much easier just to get us to rubber stamp their decisions, after the fact.  They don't have a clue about what involvement really means.  Because then they would have to change the way they work and they don't want to do this.  They've got away with it for too long.

As I was waiting in the queue for the shop I noticed one of the long-stay female patients go into the Mens toilet after a long-stay male patient and flush the pan, closing the door afterwards.  I suppose it's something she is in the habit of doing.  Looking out for her fellow patients.  

Someone has to.