Wednesday, 28 December 2016

swimming exploits in Scotland & London; keeping fit, action research, testing the water

After my health scare summer of 2015 when I had reached the end of my tether, no justice after the psychiatric abuse Feb12 and many years of being excluded for speaking out with a survivor voice, I got back to swimming.  And joined Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, when I still had a car, visiting a number of their swimming pools.  It wasn't a positive experience on the whole, at times very negative, so I began to try out other pools in different Scottish areas and in London Nov15 and Jul16 when down there.  Action research, mystery shopper sort of a thing, testing out the waters.

The pools I swam at in Fife, from September to December 2015 were in: Cupar, St Andrews, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and Burntisland; Bowhill was closed at the time and I didn't get to Cowdenbeath or Levenmouth pools although I'd used them back in the 1990's when a student at Fife College, found them OK for leisure swimming not for doing lengths.  

Cupar was closest but had slippy old tiled flooring and psychiatric nurses from Stratheden using the facilities, one of whom had assaulted my son 1Feb12.  St Andrews East Sands leisure centre changing rooms were in need of refurbishment, broken lockers and hairdryers, pool didn't have enough room for proper length swimming.  Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes were new pools funded by Sport Scotland.

The Kirkcaldy pool I found to be risky, safety wise, and males swimming aggressively.  There weren't enough lifeguards on duty one Saturday, electric sockets at toddler height near hairdryer tables with no safety plugs, mixed gender changing rooms unsupervised, teenagers running wild.  I reported my concerns at the time to NE Fife MSP Roderick Campbell who acted on my behalf, writing to the Fife Trust. Glenrothes pool seemed to have been taken over by swimming clubs, especially at weekends and through the week public swimming wasn't always available.  On speaking to local folk they didn't seem happy about this.

at Burntisland Beacon Centre Dec15

I enjoyed swimming at the Burntisland and Dunfermline Carnegie centre pools.  The former had helpful staff, nice views out large windows surrounding the pool, the latter also had friendly staff, many different facilities on offer.  But both centres were difficult to access by public transport from where I live.  A bus then two trains or two buses and a distance to walk.  In addition there weren't fitness options available to suit.

at Tollcross pool Glasgow Dec15
By December 2015 I had ceased using the Fife leisure centres and started travelling to the Olympia in Dundee, getting an over-60's offer, just £15/month, including free swim and some classes Mon-Frid daytime, free gym anytime including weekends.  At the same time I tried out other pools when visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, to see what they were like, compared to the Fife swimming experience.  I'd often swam in Perth Leisure Centre pool, Glasgow Rd, 2000-2 when working with PKAVS at the Gateway, NMethven Street, and did fitness at the Rodney Centre, Bridgend.  It was still a positive swimming experience.

London Olympic pool Nov15
In Glasgow Dec15 I swam in the Commonwealth pool at Tolcross International Swimming Centre and the Whitehill pool at Dennistoun.  Both had very helpful staff although the Tolcross pool had much newer facilities, larger pool geared towards length swimming.  In Edinburgh I visited the Leith Victoria with changing rooms around the side of the pool in a lovely setting, the Portobello Swim Centre which also had a Victorian pool, and the Royal Commonwealth Pool.  Again very helpful staff and a pleasant experience.

after swim London Fields Lido Jul16
I was in London November 2015 for the Carers UK Summit and visited the Olympic pool at Stratford, deep water, large changing areas, helpful fellow swimmers and staff.  Similar positive experiences in July this year when in London and swimming at the London Fields Lido outdoor pool and the Kensington Leisure Centre pool, only about a year old.  Had no complaints about the way I was
at Kensington pool London Nov16
treated at these facilities.  Didn't see any risky situations or behaviour.

I've been a member now at the Olympia Dundee for over a year, travelling via two buses, and have found swimming there to be very therapeutic, relaxing and safe.  Lane swimming and hot showers, useful when recovering from a hamstring injury after a bike fall in September.  Having taken up cycling early in the year, on and off road, I don't use the gym as much, do dumbbell exercises at home.  There's only so much gear I can carry in my rucksack at the one time!

Summing up, it was useful to try out other swimming pools and I will continue to do so when visiting new areas, if possible.  It was like a mini action research project, testing out the waters, building up confidence while getting fitter.   All grist to the mill for a psychiatric survivor, adventurer and PhD student.

after swimming at The Olympia Dundee 5 December 2016

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Unconditional Offer Accepted: Admission to PhD Clinical Psychology - 3 Years; University of Edinburgh

Today I accepted the unconditional offer of admission, undertaking a PhD in Clinical Psychology over 3 years at the University of Edinburgh, starting September 2017:

"PhD proposal title 'Investigating alternative crisis house and safe haven models from the perspective of lived experience: evidencing how the journey through psychoses and severe emotional states may be made safer and more secure by avoiding hospital treatment'

This action research PhD will employ a range of methods to investigate crisis houses and safe havens which exist in the UK and abroad, seeking good practice models and positive recovery outcomes, testimonies from people who have used alternative (to hospital) crisis services, hearing from staff working in these resources. To build up a picture, a map of what services exist, how they have been developed, any challenges along the way, the budgeting structure, the involvement of people with lived experience and their Carers or family members, collaborations and partnerships, and any other details which will help to evidence the benefits of safe haven crisis houses.

Co-supervisors: Professor of Clinical Psychology Matthias Schwannauer and Dr Rosie Stenhouse, Mental Health Nursing Researcher.  Academic Mentor: Professor of Psychological Therapy Andrew Gumley, University of Glasgow.


Letter received from Scottish Government regarding PhD funding: 


Letter received from Stephen Gethins MP wishing me good luck with PhD:

#GroundedTheory tweets on Christmas Eve 2016; watching #bbc2 #TOTP2

Reading 'Constructing Grounded Theory' by Kathy Charmaz late Christmas Eve while listening to 'Christmas TOTP2 Special' on BBC2:

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Sunday, 18 December 2016

remembering United We Stand event Oct09: 12 workshops; Cupar Fife

another free event I organised voluntarily through Peer Support Fife with 12 workshops, speakers, food, with the aim of bringing people together, collaborative working, meaningful involvement of mental health service users and carers ... here is the United We Stand summary:

remembering Celebrating Recovery conference Cupar Fife April 2008

which I organised voluntarily, Scottish Recovery Network funded, attended by over 120 people; the event which got me involved in the recovery movement, mental health peer support and the meaningful involvement of service users and carers; the opposition I encountered over the years led to my becoming a writer, activist and campaigner, identifying as a psychiatric survivor.  Alongside unwaged Caring and whistleblowing.  

It's interesting to reflect back on how it all started.  I was 55 at the time and a qualified, experienced community education worker, about to gain another postgrad award in FE Lecturing Care subjects, graduating Jun08.  Had recovered 3 times from psychoses and coercive psychiatric treatment, tapering drugs under my own steam. 

poster designed by me, also printed out 120 copies for delegates

From left to right: Simon Bradstreet, Prof Phil Barker, his wife Poppy Buchanan-Barker, Susan Archibald, me with clipboard & notes, Ron Coleman; I organised publicity, venue, invitations & everything on the day

a wee blether at St Andrews Cathedral about safe haven crisis house retreats

short film made on 18 December 2016 in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral, reflecting on alternatives to psychiatric inpatient treatment for people experiencing psychoses and/or emotional distress, requiring support

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Raising concerns and reporting poor care in practice: R Ion et al; Nursing Standard Dec16

Raising concerns and reporting poor care in practice
NS873 Ion R, Jones A, Craven R (2016) Raising concerns and reporting poor care in practice. Nursing Standard. 31, 15, 55-62.
Date of submission: 17 August 2016; date of acceptance: 5 October 2016. 

doi: 10.7748/ns.2016.e10665

Saturday, 10 December 2016

stressful Christmas thanks to #DWP letters: ESA & PIP forms MUST be completed or else

In the last couple of weeks my son has received a number of letters from the Department of Work and Pensions demanding that he complete ESA (Employment Support Allowance) and PIP (Personal Independence Payment replacing Disabled Living Allowance) forms by 29 December and 2 January respectively.  This has caused him to experience a high level of stress, exacerbated by their forms arriving late and phone calls to DWP numbers, as instructed, which were incorrect.  Added stress and panic attacks.  At an already stressful time of the year for people who have mental illness.  It is very unfair.

I don't get any Carers Allowance now, since receiving my basic State Pension in March 2015 at the age of 62, although my son receives medium rate of Care within DLA, which should have lasted until 2018.  Therefore this PIP letter and claim form was unexpected.  For it to arrive at the same time as the ESA demand, was doubly damaging.  Having to face a possible reduction in monies which we both need to pay the bills.  For my son has lived with me since first accessing psychiatric inpatient care in 2005 at Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, Fife.

On my son's 4th psychiatric inpatient stay in February 2012, he suffered various injuries and bad treatment, detailed in blog posts and complaints to NHS Fife, Fife Council, Scottish Government, MSPs, Mental Welfare Commission, Scottish Human Rights Commission, other mental health organisations and individuals, and finally to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.  At the end of September 2014 I heard from SPSO that my complaint against NHS Fife had been upheld and they were told to apologise which they did, in a brief letter later in the year.  Not before the interim Chief Executive of Fife Health Board Dr Brian Montgomery denied any responsibility for the abuse of my son in a Fife Herald piece, in response to my article:

Therefore we are experiencing a very stressful time leading up to Christmas, having to justify mental illness and disability.  My son will have to recount his mental health struggles, the panic attacks, anxiety, negative thoughts, lack of confidence, suicidal thoughts, all of which can happen on the worst day, when things are not going well, memories of what happened in February 2012 in the locked seclusion room, through the night.  Locked in for hours and left, broken hand untreated, needing the toilet, no nurses appeared in response to his shouting so he had to defecate on the floor of the cell, in the dark, light switch outside in the corridor.  Shameful treatment.  

His dirty protest at being left to defecate on the cell floor like an animal caused the 3 nurses, when they eventually appeared, to hold him face down in his own excrement, rubbing his face in it (resulted in glandular infection requiring antibiotics).  They fondled his genitals and penetrated his anus.  We don't know with what, it wasn't written in the notes.  Which means it didn't happen, according to NHS Fife and SPSO.  

But we know it did.  And I had to live with the flashbacks for years after and still today my son speaks of it.  It has to be spoken about.  For the sake of justice.  Although up to this day we got no justice.  Which nearly broke my spirit last year.  Fortunately I recovered.