Friday, 17 March 2017

on providing a safe house for my son

Since the psychiatric abuse of February 2012 I've been providing a safe house for my son, in our home, as his full-time Carer/caregiver.  No support from social services or community nursing teams despite having completed a Carer Assessment form in 2012.  And no Carers' Allowance since 2015 when I received my basic State Pension.  We live in a council house in a Fife village and can't afford to run a car now, after 40 years of doing so.  Which means getting the local bus which runs by Stratheden psychiatric Hospital where my son was abused.

Today we have another DWP Atos Healthcare Assessment interview for PIP (Personal Independence Payment) which used to be called Disabled Living Allowance (DLA).  The last interview was halted by us before it started, due to the assessor not having read my son's PIP application form, saying it was "too lengthy" and she didn't have time to read it all.  We were not confident in the professionalism of the assessor, her dismissive attitude and behaviour.  And complained to her line manager who organised another interview appointment, there and then.

My son had received two DWP letters about his benefits, PIP and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), in December, just before Christmas, which was very stressful and ruined our holiday time.  This process unsettled my son and caused him undue distress, the wording in the DWP letters came over as threatening.  The forms had to be completed by the end of the year.  My son spent Christmas recalling his worst days, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, and his years of treatment in Stratheden Hospital, the physical health issues which exacerbated his mental health condition and led to him having a mental disorder diagnosis.

The threat of losing your social security benefits, your livelihood as a disabled person, cannot be underestimated in terms of the impact upon mental health and wellbeing.  It was bad enough to be dehumanisingly treated in a locked seclusion room, locked in for hours on end, broken hand untreated, in the dark, no toilet or water or food, having to defecate on the floor because no-one listened to your cries for help.   Then being punished, pushed face down in his own excrement, anus penetrated, for doing a dirty protest.  Resulting in a glandular infection and painful veruccas, requiring treatment months after hospital discharge.

The dirty protest (or shitey as the other patients called it) proved the Ombudsman case, that my son had been left unobserved in locked cell with no toilet, and I "won" an apology from NHS Fife, albeit a grudging one-line written sentence in a letter October 2014.  I had been complaining about my son's treatment since 1 February 2012 when he was removed from Lomond Ward, Stratheden, in his bare feet and underpants, by 2 Porters, in a minibus, up to Ward 4/IPCU where he was locked in the seclusion room (unknown to me at the time), having been forcibly injected twice with Midazolam (my son is asthmatic, has had 3 collapsed lungs, a very risky procedure).

In fact I didn't know there was such a thing as a locked seclusion room, despite having engaged with Stratheden since 1995 when my oldest son was a Lomond Ward inpatient and 2002 when I was also an inpatient in that ward, briefly.  After my son's discharge from Stratheden, April 2012, I heard the full story of his sub-human treatment, in flashbacks from my son, for a long time.  It was very difficult to listen to.  That same year an Adult Protection Investigation report led by Fife Council Social Work Service blamed me for causing "psychological harm" to my son.  I had to do an FOI request to get a copy of the report. 

I am planning to research Safe haven crisis Houses in the rest of the UK, aiming to gather evidence of good practice, through a mapping exercise and case studies, ethnographic and narrative research, to find out what works, in terms of providing safe houses for people in psychoses and/or extreme emotional distress due to life trauma.  I want to influence the development of safe houses in Scotland, alternatives to psychiatric inpatient treatment. 

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