Monday, 25 August 2014

remembering Saturday 4 February 2012 and being bullied by 5 psychiatric nurses

I woke up this morning and remembered what it felt like on Saturday 4 February 2012, to be bullied by 5 psychiatric nurses for wanting to see my son at visiting time in the Stratheden IPCU, to photograph his broken hand and bruising.  You might describe this as a flashback.

I'd only heard the day before, 3 days after it happened, that he had a swollen hand, likely broken, for no-one had said on the Wednesday when the injury occurred, cornered in a back room of Lomond Ward by 3 male nurses.  

IPCU back view
I went in through the back door of the IPCU, although other visitors got in the front door, and said about my wanting to take photos of my son's hand.  The nurses on duty said I couldn't use a camera in the ward.  I said it was the dining room, not the ward, as I wasn't allowed in the ward.

The nurses got agitated and went to confer with the charge nurse and others.  I sat at a table in the dining room, the only person there.  Eventually a group of 5 nurses returned, 4 of them standing round me at the table, the other main charge nurse of the hospital sitting down, an older woman about my age.

They said that my son didn't want to see me (wrong for my son phoned me later asking me to visit).  They said he was sleeping (wrong again).  They stood close and intimidated me by their standing over me where I sat.  I was looking through the IPCU patient booklet which was about 4yrs out of date.  

I stayed where I was, sitting at the table, until they moved away.  I was not going to let them bully me out of the dining room until I was ready to leave.  I eventually got up to leave and let the ward nurse know that I would be coming back at the evening visiting at 6pm.

I came back at 6pm, was let in through the back door, in the dark, no light outside or bell on door.  I had to keep knocking until someone heard.  I visited with my son, saw his broken hand, asked for the junior doctor to examine it, for it hadn't been treated.  I then instructed him to arrange an X-ray and on the Monday I went in my own car to the general hospital to keep an eye on my son during the X-ray where his hand breaks were confirmed.

For two weeks after the Saturday bullying incident I felt physically unwell, exhausted, like I'd been in a fight.  I had to take bed rest, was dehydrated, sore muscles, headache.  My oldest son came to visit, did some housework, got me messages.  My good friend shared the visiting of my son in the IPCU over the next few weeks.  

I won't forget the implied force that was used on me in Stratheden's IPCU which mirrored the forced treatment and human rights abuse perpetrated on patients within the ward at the time.  Learned behaviour by staff which was cultural and had been going on for quite some time, probably decades as I'd heard from a former patient of his experience over 30 years previously.  

I expect that staff in the Fife IPCU will have stopped using bullying methods in their practice and denying basic human rights to patients in their "care".  That staff will have stopped rolling their own cigarettes while they work, in front of patients.  That staff will not be locking patients in the seclusion room which has no toilet or water to drink and a light switch outside, and leaving them unobserved for hours at a time.

I expect that the conditions for patients in the IPCU at Stratheden Hospital will have vastly improved but I have no proof or evidence of it.  One thing is for sure I will not agree to any more of my family members becoming patients at Stratheden Hospital, and that includes me.  We have written Advance Statements to this effect.

It is far too risky for me and mine to be inpatients at Stratheden Hospital.  I raised a number of concerns about Lomond Ward and the nursing practice in 2010, didn't take them to a complaint but told management and Scottish Government mental health division about issues.  Then in 2012 my son and I both had to suffer for it.  Now I take everything to a complaint and speak out at any and every opportunity.

I am not prepared to put up with bullying and intimidation by psychiatric nursing staff and others in mental health organisations.  It's bad enough that they pin stigmatising mental disorder labels on to us which discriminate and mark us out as defective.  Diagnoses which allow staff to force psychiatric drugs into us.  The drugs disable and cause further mental health issues.  A double and even triple whammy. 

I want to see alternative ways of working with people in emotional crises, mental distress or altered mind states, that doesn't mean forced drugs and disabling disorder labels.  People are individuals and should be treated as such.  

The Scottish Mental Health Strategy: "fully supports and adopts the 3 Quality Ambitions for Scotland that health and care must be:

Person centred - which is;

Mutually beneficial partnerships between patients, their families and those delivering healthcare services which respect individual needs and values and which demonstrate compassion, continuity, clear communication and shared decision-making.

Safe - which is;

There will be no avoidable injury or harm to people from healthcare they receive, and an appropriate clean and safe environment will be provided for the delivery of healthcare services at all times.

Effective - which is;

The most appropriate treatments, interventions, support and services will be provided at the right time to everyone who will benefit and wasteful or harmful variation will be eradicated."

I expect Scottish Government mental health division and ministers to ensure that health boards comply with the strategy.  But we're not there yet, in terms of "mutually beneficial partnerships" and "shared decision-making".

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