Thursday, 31 October 2013

welcome to my own wee webinar twitter-wise on Right to Treat versus Rights Protected

Since I was unable to get into the Right to Treat webinar by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland yesterday and have my say, here is my own wee webinar on the topic:

chrys muirhead @ChrysMuirheadA
Right to Treat/Rights Protected same difference? I say No @MentalWelfare it's too easy to say "no capacity" & forcibly treat, far too easy

chrys muirhead @ChrysMuirheadA
"Force should only be used if necessary" huh, who says? @MentalWelfare resistance is met with force refusal is met with force IM experience

chrys muirhead @ChrysMuirheadA
Right to Treat doesn't mean no #humanrights seclusion rooms disrespect of carers badmouthing character assassination @MentalWelfare IMO

chrys muirhead @ChrysMuirheadA
Mental Illness? there's no such thing, just an excuse to subdue compel overpower @MentalWelfare too much power in psychiatrist's pens IMO

chrys muirhead @ChrysMuirheadA
way beyond time that @MentalWelfare did the job right, got teeth, stopped #humanrights abuse in psychiatric settings IMO & others. So there!

 chrys muirhead @ChrysMuirheadA
hope you enjoyed my "webinar" @MentalWelfare as much as I enjoyed yours. Here's tae us wha's like us!

Monday, 28 October 2013

"I thought, if this can happen to the Duke of Hamilton, what chance has Joe Bloggs got?" Lady Hamilton

No chance whatsoever.  Especially if you happen to be my son and have to access crisis care then psychiatric inpatient treatment at Stratheden Hospital.

Firstly you won't be able to get any support.  Then they'll try to criminalise you if they can get away with it.  Finally they will lock you in seclusion rooms until you are forced to comply.  

Badmouthing your mother in psychiatric notices.  Slandering her motives and reputation.  Family history of schizoaffective disorder.  Mother's mother had schizophrenia.  It's genetic.  Biological.  

No it isn't.  I never believed a word of it and recovered.  There's no such thing as mental illness.  But there is dehumanising treatment behind the locked doors of psychiatric institutions.  In our day and age.  Shameful.

Lady Hamilton said her husband was detained against his will
Article in BBC News Scotland: Duke wrongly sectioned, says Lady Hamilton: "The Duke of Hamilton's widow has called for a change in the law so people cannot be held in psychiatric hospitals on the orders of just two people."

Sunday, 27 October 2013

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

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.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

have you ever had your nose rubbed in it?

You'll likely know what I mean.  Especially if you had to engage with psychiatric services where I live.  

The staff who work in the psychiatric hospital up the road really do think that they are exempt from accountability.  That the psychiatric labels pinned on unsuspecting patients and their offspring can be valid reasons for denying basic human rights.

I suppose that if they've got away with it for years they must think that they can keep on doing so.  That mental illness means incapacity means anything goes.  Their word against yours and your word won't be believed because you have mental illness.  Their cronies will back them up to the hilt.  

After all, what is truth in the land of make believe?

Well I don't like getting my nose rubbed in it.  And I'm not prepared to put up with it.

"you ain't seen nothing yet"

And now for a bit of light relief.  

Remembering the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song "You ain't seen nothing yet" from early 80's.  It was a good time for me.  I had recovered from puerperal psychosis and forced psychiatric treatment, getting off the chlorpromazine by 1979 and then in 1980, when I was a shepherdess, small flock of Bluefaced Leicester crosses, I got on the TV. 

It was the Krypton Factor show, having applied along with 10,000 other folk, was interviewed along with 500 others, mine was at STV Cowcaddens, and filmed the episode at Granada TV studios, Manchester.  

The assault course was filmed on an army camp in the moors somewhere.  My cousin who was brought up in Perth, across the road from me, now lives in Chester, also got through to the TV show.

Then in 1981 I became a Christian and my life took on a whole new way of being.  I began to be involved in the local village church, working with children and young people, visiting the housebound.  Doing summer missions at Maidens, Ayr, and weekends away at St Ninian's Centre, Crieff.

Happy memories!

Friday, 25 October 2013

yup - says it all

the human rights abuse of mentally ill people in Fife cannot continue

Email just sent to Fife Council social work managers and Fife elected Councillors:

"The onus is on Fife Council social work to bring balance to the psychiatric treatment of mentally vulnerable people who have been incarcerated or silenced with psychiatric drugs.  Because you aren't doing your job right there are human rights abuses going on in psychiatric situations.

We now have no independent advocacy in Fife because you took the contract away from the user groups and gave it to a learning disability service provider based in England, and I suspect a crony.  To award them the contract a second time is beyond comprehension.  There is now no collective advocacy in Fife.  Circles Network do not countenance complaints.  I got a solicitor's letter for raising a complaint about the bullying from their staff.

My son had his human rights abused in Ward 4 of Stratheden Hospital in February 2012.  Locked in a seclusion room for hours at a time with no toilet or water to drink, with a broken hand untreated.  He had to defecate on the floor because no-one let him out for the toilet.  Treated worse than a prisoner.  He was told by staff that he didn't require an advocate to speak with the RMO/psychiatrist.  This same RMO told me that people without capacity don't require advocacy.  Patients in that ward for years were denied a voice.  It's a disgrace.

It cannot continue, the human rights abuse of mentally ill people in Fife.  As public servants you are accountable for what you do with public money.  A £10million overspend is nothing to be proud of.  You can't keep getting away with it.  There has to be major improvements and better financial accounting. 


Mental Health Officers should be protecting the rights of psychiatric patients who are under the Mental Health Act.  It's their duty.  They shouldn't be protecting NHS Fife staff.  The people who use mental health services are your customers, not health board staff. 

Fife elected Councillors should be ensuring that social work staff are doing their jobs rights, protecting the vulnerable and supporting their carers.  You are elected by the people and serve the people.  Not the institution."


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

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.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

the tide is coming in where I live, near the land of make believe

A fairy tale continued:

I live near the Land of Make Believe where the Uniform think that Notes give them power over the Other.  Like magic spells they believe that if they say it then it's true.  Instead of a wand they have the authority invested in them by the Royal charter of nuttiness.  Where truth becomes fiction and lies become truth.  The end justifies the means.

As in the Wizard of Oz the Uniform speak with booming voices but are small in stature which even the book of Notes can't disguise.  When the Unbelievers arrive in their land the 'perceived to be powerful' muster all their troops and every spell in the big black book.  Pills and potions.  Sleight of hand.  Disappearing tricks. 

It's worked before.  They've held back the tide when other shores didn't.  However it's getting more and more difficult for the Uniform to hold out and the water is rising.  

Time to call in the King ...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

being victimised by psychiatry doesn't make you a victim

I refuse to be a victim even though psychiatry has done its best to make me feel like one.  Like a stick of rock if you break me in half you will find "resistance" written all the way through, in red letters.  I will not lie down and take it even though they have forced me to do so in the past.

If you lock someone in a seclusion room in an IPCU with no toilet or running water and leave them for hours at a time with a broken hand, unobserved, then this is human rights abuse.  Let's be clear about it.  

A prisoner has more rights than this.

If 5 psychiatric nurses surround a mother in an IPCU visiting room, standing over her while she sits, and refuse her access to her son or allow her to photograph his bruising and broken hand then this is bullying and intimidation.  Let's be clear about it.

Everyone saw the bruising and the broken hand was eventually X-rayed because I got it organised.  They couldn't intimidate me into staying away.  My good friend shared the visiting and she was a witness.  Let's be clear about it.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

don't expect any justice from psychiatric hospital complaints in Fife

My advice to anyone considering making a complaint to NHS Fife about Stratheden Hospital or other psychiatric services is that you have to be persistent and expect to be in it for the long haul.  Justice will be a long time coming.  But I'm prepared to wait and to act in the meantime, speaking out whenever and wherever I can.

I've always been someone who likes and expects fairness, and try to be fair in my dealings with others.  I remember in the school playground standing up to the bullies and standing with those who were being picked on.  Nothing has changed.  Although I know that life isn't always or often fair that doesn't mean I will be putting up with injustice.

I've had many people write and speak to me about what happened to them in Stratheden and other Fife psychiatric settings.  They are aggrieved and angry about what was done to them.  It wasn't easy listening to their stories and unfair treatment.  Most times when I visit Stratheden Hospital a patient will engage with me and want me to hear their story.

I hear from the long-stay patients, some of whom don't want to leave the hospital as they've been there for 20 or more years.  It's like home to them although they live in dorms and their possessions may be locked away.  One guy told me about his model car hobby but when I asked about them he said they were locked in a shed.

A female long-stay patient has often spoken with me, saying how she wanted to return and live in her home town in central Fife.  But it doesn't seem to be happening and instead she has to go to another town and area she's not familiar with.  So much for person-centred services.  Not where I live.

I remember a female acute ward patient telling me she couldn't go further than the gate.  I asked if she was under the MH Act.  But no she wasn't.  It's just that the nurses told her she couldn't go far.  This was a woman my age, a professional, articulate, and who heard voices.  Her treatment was a high dose of anti-psychotic to silence the voices but this also made her sedated and unable to concentrate.  She didn't know about the Hearing Voices Network in Fife.  The nurses hadn't told her so I told her.

Many more tales to tell about the "land that time forgot".

"a warehouse waiting for the medication to kick in" according to a psychiatric staff nurse

The psychiatric staff nurse who hit my son on the chest (my son has asthma and has had 3 collapsed lungs) used to describe the ward he worked in as "a warehouse waiting for the medication to kick in".  He would make comments to female patients about their appearance or that they had "nice eyes".  He was overheard saying to a female nurse that he "liked a woman with swagger".  I can name this female staff nurse.

This ward in the psychiatric hospital just up the road from where I live is mixed gender with male and female dorms.  The female dorms are overlooked by single rooms that sometimes have male patients in them.  The psychiatric nursing staff in this ward were often are in the staff room writing notes when I visited in Feb/Mar 2012.

On one occasion, as I waited in the area outside the staff room, a male patient, who was waiting to go to court on an assault charge, walked right down the corridor and into the end female dorm.  There were no nurses around.  This male patient had rosary beads around his neck and was crossing himself as he walked.  I knew him quite well as he'd spoken to me at different times.  He was concerned about going to prison again.

I heard a woman in the dorm shout out and then an older woman about my age but small came walking up the ward.  I think she walked with a stick.  I asked her if everything was OK.  She looked at me and said nothing.  I later learnt that this woman took her own life four days after being discharged at the end of March, as I recognised her photo in the newspapers.  She was a mother and grandmother like me.  

There were still no nurses about at this point.  Eventually the male patient came back up the ward then a female staff nurse appeared.  I told her what happened and I also wrote about this in complaints at the time by Email to NHS Fife.  I got no response, as usual, and don't know if anything was done about it and whether male patients are still free to go into female dorms at will.  Or if male patients are in single rooms overlooking the female dorm.  Male patients who might have criminal records.

The psychiatric nurse who assaulted my son tried to get my son to sign a form to say that he was aggressive.  However my son wouldn't sign it, because he wasn't aggressive.  When my son went back into this ward from the IPCU they had put my son on the nursing team led by this nurse who had hit him.  

I got his nursing team changed to another team and got my son moved, from the dorm and a bed opposite the male patient who was waiting to go to court on an assault charge, to the other male dorm which was quieter.  I asked the female charge nurse to do this and she did so immediately.  This woman lives in the village where I live.

I have plenty more stories to tell of what happened to my son in the psychiatric hospital up the road.  I have to tell the stories because the complaints went nowhere.  I wrote many complaints in Emails over the two months he was an inpatient and can refer back to them if necessary.  However it's unlikely that I'll need to as what happened over that two months is still fresh in my memory.

Monday, 21 October 2013

is recovery all it's cracked up to be?

I'm wondering, after a mammoth series of complaints against NHS Fife about their psychiatric services in Stratheden Hospital, where lies became truth and black became white, if it's not better just to play the system, take their drugs, let them force treatment on patients, denying them basic human rights and agree that I have schizoaffective disorder?  

Then the system will stop badmouthing me.  I will go along with their lifelong mental illness mantra.  Become disabled by the psychiatric drugs, have tardive dyskinesia, lack decision making abilities, be nice to mental health managers in Fife, and lose all sense of self and identity.  

I could be a crony and chum, not rocking the boat or having an opinion of my own.  They would consider me as first choice for any feedback required.  As in, a tick box exercise.  "yes the staff are wonderful"  "no I don't have any complaints"  "yes the ward is a welcoming place with many resources"  "no I didn't see anyone being disrespected or forcibly treated."

Then everyone would be happy.  

Except me. 

human rights in psychiatric settings? not where I live

I wouldn't recommend anyone going voluntarily into the psychiatric wards in my local area.  A very risky thing to do.  You may be assaulted, forcibly treated, your carer badmouthed in psychiatric notes, bullied by groups of nurses, your human rights rode roughshod over. 

And if you complain, well they won't believe you.  The psychiatric nurses are always right, their word is taken as true.  This gives them carte blanche to do what they like with detained and locked-in patients.  Deny access to a toilet, water to drink, advocacy, a pen to write with, contact with mother or carer.  In fact they can do what they like and not have to answer for it.

Great job if you can get it.

why do psychiatric nurses get away with assaulting patients and disrespecting carers?

This morning we were faced with a challenging situation in our local town.  The psychiatric nurse, who had assaulted my son on 1 February 2012, which escalated into a face-down restraint and my son breaking his own hand, passed by and smiled at us. 

It was very difficult to take, especially as I had also made complaints about this nurse's behaviour in the ward to me - putting his arm around me inappropriately, slamming a door in my face - and nothing was done about that either.  Not to my knowledge.

It seems that psychiatric nurses can do with they like with psychiatric patients, and their carers, and are not held accountable for their actions.  Their colleagues back them up, even perjure themselves, and it's taken as the gospel truth, meanwhile patients and carers tell their story and it isn't believed.

So much for truth and justice.  It just doesn't exist in psychiatric settings where I live. 

attending Carers Summit at a cost of £32.40 plus a day's unpaid work

[update: not going, can't afford to, car cost £200 for MOT today and washing machine broke down]

I'm planning to attend the Carers Summit in Glasgow this Friday, hosted by Carers Scotland.  But unfortunately there are no travel expenses for attending, for those like me who are unpaid carers on £59/week.  I will leave the house before 7am and not return until about 6pm. 

I will get the train from Cupar, at a cost of £32.40, after driving there from the village I live in.  Although I have a bus pass now that I'm 61 years old, I can't take a bus for long journeys due to health issues.

Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, is doing the keynote address. Topics include Welfare Reform and Carers Scotland priorities.  

As an unpaid carer, activist and campaigner, I think it is important for me to attend this event, to have a voice and to network with others.  I take part in many national mental health groups with other carers, where we usually are reimbursed for travel costs so we are not out of pocket.

I will bring up this topic of travel expenses at the Carers Summit meeting.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

the rehabilitation of the "severe and enduring mentally ill" down my street

Is it still appropriate to talk about the rehabilitation of people who have been psychiatric inpatients and labelled with "severe and enduring mental illness" (SEMI)?  I say NO.  It reinforces the stigma and discrimination, in my opinion, and makes it even more difficult for people to recover their personhood and get back on with their lives.

Where I live, in Fife, they continue to put rehabilitation and recovery side by side in their mental health strategies and action plans, and in their psychiatric system.  Separating the wheat from the chaff.  Them and us.  The mentally ill from those with "common mental health problems".  

We're not criminals although we sometimes get locked up then restrained, secluded and forcibly treated.  Non-conformity and being unco-operative shouldn't be labelled "non-compliance" or "without capacity" and an excuse for forcing drugs into us at any and every opportunity.  Resistance is normal when a system is oppressive.

Well I wasn't having it, the label or the stigma, so resisted the lifelong prognosis and recovered.  However it took a fair bit of resilience and bloodymindedness, dogged determination not to be a forever service user, keeping psychiatric staff in jobs for life.

But that doesn't mean that people who have been labelled and disabled by the psychiatric treatment shouldn't get the support and services they deserve.  However keeping them in separate piles and dead-end cul-de-sacs isn't the way to do it.  We're all in it together, in terms of mental health issues.  It's no respecter of persons. 

So I say to the high heid yins at my bit that it's time for them to ditch the stigmatising labels and do no more harm.  Mental health difficulties are no excuse for silencing patient voices or denying basic human rights.  We need independent advocacy and full disclosure. 

Confidentiality isn't a one-way street.  Psychiatric notes aren't about keeping the power base.  Recovery is possible.  A paradigm shift in mental health services is necessary.

Stigma begins and ends with psychiatry: time to stop labelling and disabling

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

a cherry picking tree picture

Here's a picture I did earlier on Paint and shared on Facebook, again on the theme of cherry picking [original drawing from Elizabeth Fuller]:

cherry picking

just posted on Facebook, in relation to something I got by Email (more anon ....):

"Cherry picking, suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. It is a kind of fallacy of selective attention, the most common example of which is the confirmation bias. Cherry picking may be committed intentionally or unintentionally." 

Friday, 11 October 2013

"patients without capacity don't require advocacy" - let's give the workers iPads

I remember a consultant forensic psychiatrist telling me in 2012 that "patients without capacity don't require advocacy" as if it was a fact.  Fortunately I knew the truth of the matter.  That independent advocacy was a legal right for anyone detained under the Mental Health Act.

I made him aware that I knew the MH Act and anyway the person we were discussing had capacity.  Probably too much capacity and that's why they wanted to restrain, seclude and forcibly treat him.  Without an advocate present.  However this patient insisted on an advocate being present for they knew the MH Act also, far better than I.  The psychiatrist wasn't happy at not getting his way.

But in this locked ward the MH Act wasn't adhered to and they took every opportunity to deny the basic human rights of patients.  Locked in a seclusion room with no toilet or water to drink.  No pens to write with.  Nurses rolling their own cigarettes in the ward.  They expected carers to obey and reacted badly when a carer resisted.  

The patient resisted the ignorance and inhumane treatment until he was overpowered and forced to comply.  He fell over, losing balance because of the psychiatric drug, and nurses accused him of being silly.  The carer told the nurses it was side effects of the drug.  

This carer then had to instruct the nurses in this locked ward about basic communication skills, how not to invade a visitor's personal space.  They had obviously got too used to forcing patients to comply that they had lost awareness of what was appropriate behaviour when dealing with carers and family members.  In fact the senior charge nurse said that they didn't get many visitors.  I'm not surprised.

This carer wasn't allowed in the front door at visiting time but was sent round the back, in the dark wintry nights, icy beneath feet, to knock on a door and not be heard, then had to hammer on it.  Until someone came.  It put this carer off visiting at night.  She didn't want to break a leg.  Again.  Now they have a doorbell and window in the back door.  

Don't know about the practice though.  Joinery improvement work is far easier than changing attitudes and behaviour.  That will require ongoing monitoring and evaluation.  Asking patients and carers about their treatment.  Listening to the customers of the service.  Really listening.

At a recent meeting in this psychiatric institution to do with "involvement" of people with lived experience, the senior manager mentioned getting iPads for workers, as if this would improve their communication skills.  I was incredulous.  Thought the guy was joking.  Maybe he was.  Or losing his marbles.

Then another carer told their story.  Of poor psychiatric treatment, neglect, lack of communication and information.  Difficult to listen to.  Confidentiality was mentioned.  Then breached by the worker in relation to my situation.  

We heard that in Fife there are no dementia statistics.  How could this be?  Don't know.  But they have to be gathered.  Maybe the iPads will help?

Welcome to my world! 

the role of the mental welfare commission - the role of the mental patient

Just posted this photo and comment on Facebook and thought I'd repeat it here:

yes we believe you (not)
"the role of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland is to keep the status quo, to not rock the boat, to be careful not to offend psychiatry, to be wise after the event. The role of mental patients is to survive whatever way you can and if possible to stay non-compliant whatever they do to you, in the name of psychiatry. IMO.  Rebel on the inside if you can't do it on the outside. Be defiant. Play the system. Take the money. Be a right pain in the neck. Make them feel guilty. Keep their consciences alive. Wake them up to the human rights abuse. They can't keep on being Rip Van Winkel, this is no fairy tale."

Now I feel better.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

confidentiality in psychiatric settings? a one-way street

Confidentiality means different things to different people.  

The Nursing & Midwifery Council says: "Confidentiality is a fundamental part of professional practice that protects human rights."

Health and social care definition: "Confidentiality means not sharing information about people without their knowledge and agreement."

NHS Fife on its website, under 'Information & eHealth' says: "All staff must be vigilant about their own behaviour and that of colleagues to ensure confidentiality is maintained at all times."

However, in psychiatric settings, as a person on the receiving end of services, whether as a patient or carer, I have found that confidentiality is a one-way street.  The power lies with the professional and they can do what they like with information about me and mine.  

They can write about us in notes, copious amounts, subjective opinions, fictionalised to justify practice and get them off the hook.  And we who have been judged and found wanting don't have a leg to stand on.  Sometimes literally if we're detained and being force fed psychiatric drugs until we fall over or zonk out.

I thought I'd seen it all.  Wrong.  The latest episode was confidential information released without permission at a meeting.  In what seemed like an attempt to silence me.  No surprise there then.

Bet they get away with it.  Again.

don't put all your eggs in one basket

I've learnt when it comes to engaging with certain psychiatric and mental health services to keep in mind various options, allies and plans of actions.  And don't follow orders.  Be non-conformist.  It's the only way to survive.  IMO

Confidentiality is a one-sided affair for some so-called professionals.  Anything goes if it's a matter of saving your own skin or following orders or keeping in with the high heid yins.  It's not a matter of conscience.

Disclosing personal stuff to do with carers/survivors is OK if the end justifies the means.  They can do what they like it seems and not be accountable.  A slippery slope.  

Posting stuff on national websites on view to the world that is inappropriate and degrading.  

Locking patients in seclusion rooms and leaving them for hours on end, unobserved.  

Intimidating carers by making them go to a ward back door, in the dark, icy surfaces, to visit their locked-in family member.

Getting away with it because they can.  

So far anyway ...

Monday, 7 October 2013

what will it take to bring about real change in Fife psychiatric services?

I'm wondering what it will take to bring about a shift in the nursing practice and management at Stratheden Hospital, and Fife psychiatric services.  So that psychiatric patients and mental health service users are not at risk of seclusion, restraint and forced treatment.  Services that are patient centred not staff focused.  Where carers are treated with respect.

I really don't know.

My son was assaulted, subject to face-down restraint, shut in a room, forcibly injected, broke his own hand to escape.  And still the staff at Stratheden seem to think that patient safety is a laughing matter, as demonstrated in this NHS Fife Stratheden Hospital video.  

A film that was freely available to anyone viewing the Scottish Patient Safety Programme for Mental Health website.  Until this weekend when I complained, again, and was informed today that it has been removed.

What will it take to change the cultural attitudes at a psychiatric hospital that has got too used to using restraint, seclusion and forced treatment on mentally distressed patients?  Complaints processes appear to be useless, in my experience.  They just seem to keep getting away with it.

And what are the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland doing about it?  I don't know that either.  They're not there for people like me, carers or the family I care for, in my experience.  Another psychiatric institution.

Then there is the Scottish Human Rights Commission.  What are they doing about it?  Nothing in particular to do with specific cases, so I'm told.  They form action plans and write documents, speak at events, go to European meetings, meanwhile people are at risk in psychiatric settings. 

It's left up to mothers and carers, families and survivors to do something about it.  Otherwise the human rights abuse will continue as usual.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Challenge of Being a Mother, Carer and Survivor, of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Treatment

Alex Salmond FM at Carers Parliament 2013
This week past, on 1 October 2013, I attended the second Carers Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland, in my role as an unpaid carer of two adult sons with mental disorder diagnoses, also as an activist and campaigner in mental health matters.  It was held in the Hub on Castlehill, "constructed between 1842 and 1845 as the Victoria Hall to house the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland".   A few hundred carers, about 80% women, some joining us from other parts of Europe, and the Programme theme 'Your Rights'.

The First Minister Alex Salmond made a surprise appearance and keynote address, announcing the launch that day of a 'Statement of Intent' for Carers and Young Carers, with a commitment that Scottish Government, subject to a consultation outcome, "intends to bring forward legislation to support carers and young carers with a view to securing parliamentary approval before the end of the parliamentary session."

I am an unpaid carer and receive £59 per week Carers Allowance.  In return I care for my two sons as required 24/7, to advise and guide, advocate and give peer support, and stand with them.  The younger lives with me, the other nearby.  I do what I can.  It's not easy.  It helps that I am a survivor, of mental illness and psychiatric treatment.  However this weekend my patience and resilience have been sorely tested.  Because of a patient safety video on the Scottish Patient Safety Programme for Mental Health website, made by psychiatric staff who work in my local hospital, labelled "fun stuff", a comedy piece that didn't make me laugh.  What's funny about rapid tranquilisation (forced injections), restraint and seclusion if you're on the receiving end?  Or as a mother and carer picking up the pieces after traumatic psychiatric treatment.

I've always known that psychiatric wards were risky places because of what happened to my mother when I was young.  I have an early memory, foggy in detail, of being about 8 years old, 1961, at my grandparents' house, other family members present, discussing my mother who was becoming unwell.  The song Wooden Heart by Elvis was playing.  My uncle, a sailor who travelled abroad and brought back dolls in national costume for my granny, taking me out on his new scooter, hanging on tight as we went round corners, taking my mind off whatever was happening back at the house.  My mother would disappear for a while and I would stay with my granny.  In 1970 aged 17 I saw my mother in the locked ward for the first time.

In 1978 after a painful childbirth, losing grip on reality, I found myself going voluntarily into a psychiatric hospital.  I then knew something of what my mother had to go through, although she had it worse, being given many shock treatments against her will.  I managed to avoid the ECT and only got the forced injections.  Escaping the mental illness label by not believing a word of it.  My two younger sisters went through similar psychiatric treatment around the same time, late 70's, early 80's.  Middle sister unfortunately in same hospital as my mother, got forced ECT.  She doesn't speak of it.

Psychiatry likes to keep patients in a state of suspended infantilization where the trivial becomes commonplace to supersede, I suppose, the realities of living.  Whereas as a mother I want to see my children grow up, leave childhood behind and become responsible adults.  I don't see the point in psychiatric treatment which takes away personal responsibility and at the same time tries to lay the blame for 'mental illness' at the mother's door.  Blaming the mothers.  Biological psychiatry.  The biomedical model of mental illness.  "Family history of ..." written in psychiatric notes.  Patriarchal systems that keep women in their place and treat psychiatric patients as women.

Dr Bonnie Burstow, academic and feminist psychotherapist, writes in 'Understanding and Ending ECT: a feminist imperative' 2006: "Raising awareness of the special jeopardy of women who are older, women giving birth, and women otherwise violated (including previous psychiatric violation) is crucial.  By the same token, while it is important to press for psychiatry-free services generally, such advocacy is especially critical for these women.  Elderly women place a particular demand upon us, for they almost never step into a public arena to give testimony, and so their voices are never heard."

Next week there is a patient safety meeting at my local psychiatric hospital which I will be attending, chaired by one the managers involved in the "fun" video.  The driver or purpose of the meeting comes from the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance 'Service user experience in adult mental health': "Any attempt to judge the quality of health services would be incomplete without considering the experiences of people who use them. By finding out what service users think, valuable information can be obtained about problems with the way that services are delivered and used to assess the impact of efforts to improve the quality of healthcare provided."

However I believe that service user and survivor experiences should go much further than just being a "consideration".  Our experiences should underpin the mental health service improvement process.  Because we can't vote with our feet doesn't mean we wouldn't be leaving if we had the chance. I'd recently asked for the "fun stuff" video to be taken down from the local information, and it was.  Today though it popped up in another place on the SPSP-MH website where I wasn't expecting to see it.  I got a shock, it caused me more pain.  So I wrote a blog post on the SPSP site where I have the only blog so far and can have a voice: 'is patient safety a fun topic?".

I now take part in a number of Scottish mental health groups and meetings from the survivor and carer perspective, in a variety of disciplines, with the aim of speaking out and influencing system change and service improvement.  I feel at times like a warrior and resistance fighter with scars to show for it.  At other times I'm a mother and carer in nurturing mode.  Sometimes I get to be a grandmother and enjoy the childhood play.  These roles are all wrapped up in the one bundle and make me the person that I am.  It's a challenge.  So be it.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

fun stuff video on patient safety from Stratheden Hospital staff

I'm involved with the Scottish Patient Safety Programme for Mental Health (SPSP-MH) because of what happened to my son when he was a psychiatric inpatient in the Lomond and IPCU wards at Stratheden Hospital, in February 2012.  

When he was assaulted, restrained, secluded, broke his own hand then was locked in a room in the IPCU, with no toilet or water to drink.  I was intimidated and bullied by 5 nurses, attempting to see my son at visiting time, to check on his wellbeing and also to photograph his injuries and bruises.

Recently I came upon this 'Fun Stuff' video on 'patient safety' made by Stratheden staff and posted on the SPSP-MH website.  The trivialising of the patient experience and upsetting for me to watch.  An insult to what happened to my son and no doubt to other Stratheden patients.

I immediately alerted NHS Fife managers and SPSP-MH leads about my concerns and the video's inappropriate content.  Resulting in, what I thought, was its removal from the website.  However I've just come upon another link this morning to the same video under the heading 'Pilot Ward Update - NHS Fife'.

My son was assaulted and had his human rights abused under the 'care' of these people.  And I am still having my nose rubbed in it.  

Thursday, 3 October 2013

narrow escape

Like me you've probably had that thought or feeling of "phew! a narrow escape".  It happened to me recently when at the very last hurdle I realised that the race wasn't the right one and winning wasn't worth the effort.

The sense of relief is palpable when this happens, in my experience.  Life's too short to be going off in the wrong direction.  Especially where there are other races, already in training for, that take us further in the right direction.  Or less in the wrong direction.  Whatever way you look at it.