And there was evening and morning…

I have woken today to sunshine and bird song. There is even a light breeze as I put the washing on the line and in the stillness of what must be by now a Summer morning I could hear my younger children playing. Life goes on.

Yesterday we sat in a mostly empty courtroom to hear the inquest into the death of my dear friend. I have not attended an inquest before but it was much as I expected. The remit of the court seemed extremely narrow however. I had hoped that such an investigation could lead to some genuine recommendations for the future care of others in my friends situation so that they, unlike her, might not die.

This was not to be the case.

Nevertheless I think the proceedings made it very clear that there is something seriously amiss in the provision of psychiatric care to adult patients in this area. There was absolutely no continuity of care. There was no understanding of what made admission to hospital necessary and when pushed one of the two psychiatrists said that the only thing on offer in admission to hospital was “supervision”.

What has happened to nurses? Have they lost all skill and ability? Are they really just custody officers now? I spent a great deal of my time on the wards as a nurse working with patients to help them come to terms with tragedy and to manage and reduce their self harm. We worked with people to offer them techniques to manage anxiety and depression. There were off-ward therapies in art and relaxation.

So why was there none of this available for my friend? Why was there only “supervision”?

There was a complete lack of insight from the professionals it seemed to me. They recognised that there had not been any trusting therapeutic relationship formed and even in an offhand comment had realised why-but nothing was done to correct this.

In the end one doctor said that they had decided that in future for such cases they would “have a meeting.”

They just seemed relaxed in their comfortable mediocrity.

Finally we received a “narrative verdict” on her death and off we went. Nothing will bring her back-and worse still nothing happened in that room that will do anything whatsoever to try and prevent another death like hers.


11 responses to “And there was evening and morning…

  1. They just seemed relaxed in their comfortable mediocrity.

    how right you are! this also goes on in all jobs! and also very few people really care now!

    people are just to selfish to care about others!

    people want to be paid just for turning up for work now days! being a nurse should be a calling something from the heart but in truth how many nurses do it from the heart? very few i would say? the only ones i know are from catholic countrys?

    i hope i dont get ill!

    • Peter “I hope I don’t get ill!”
      I would advise anyone under the NHS not to get ill. If you must get ill get something straightforward that is easy to treat.
      My oldest has type 1 diabetes and that’s easy from the NHS point of view; hand over the insulin and he has to take care of himself.

      Anything more challenging like my Fibro or my friend’s breast cancer or my poor late friend’s serious depression and you get left- in her case to die.

  2. Mental health services worryingly ineffective. I’m left wondering what the professionals involved are actually paid to do, it certainly isn’t to care for the vulnerable.

    There is money in the service however, just look at the funds lavished on schemes to help drug addicts inject safely; thereby “reducing risk”.

    In fact, therein lies the problem. They can’t see beyond risk reduction. They make a risk assessment of a person’s condition and stick with it. If you are classed as low risk, they don’t care. This “risk” has nothing to do with the vulnerability of the patient and everything to do with their placidity and their probability of harming others.

    It is tragic.

    Rest assured my prayers and recent battles with the Mental Health Services here are offered as support.

    • The lack of care screamed through at the inquest. It really did. Despite the fact that she had seriously tried to die before they just couldn’t get their act together to ensure ONE person saw her regularly. It was a shambles.

      I am horrified at what you and your husband have and are going through.
      And I agree that only those who don’t care stay behind in the end. I remember working with qualified nurses on the wards who could practically tell me the chemical compounds of the drugs with all the fancy Greek and Latin names- but hadn’t a clue how to sit with a distressed patient or teach them how not to self harm. They just didn’t care enough to find out how.

      I wish in the narrative verdict the coroner had said she felt neglect was part of the problem-but apparently she wasn’t allowed to say that sort of thing.

  3. I am very sorry to hear about your friend. Having been in hospital recently though not mental health I would say that structures in place prevent efficient care, and mostly only those who don’t care ‘enough’ can bear to stay!

    • I agree the structures are appalling. They orchestrate leaving wards short staffed.
      I hope you are recovering.
      I think it will take a lot of work to turn the culture around.

  4. Hi Mum6,

    So sorry to hear about your friend.

    Nurses cannot ‘care’ because they are encouraged not to. It’s all competencies and measurement and physical tasks these days. My pal recently completed a nurse training course in which he wrote a dissertation about the lack of care in a particular situation he witnessed. Despite the basically academic nature of the paper, and plenty references from scholarly articles, the assesser failed his dissertation. He had to rewrite it putting the nurses in a better light.

    He noted the lack of care in wards because there weren’t many nurses on duty or, if there were, they were busy rushing around doing the drugs round in a few minutes flat or coping with paperwork.

    Some of the nurses are emotionally uninvolved; all of them are encouraged to treat people at a distance, unemotionally. My pal sat with a dying man who was criticised for making a mess in his room (I won’t go into details). The man had ‘brought it on himself’ with years of drinking therefore – in the nurses’ view – he didn’t deserve good treatment. My pal incurred their wrath by providing a human being with company while he died. Did you know that – years ago in hospitals – if someone was dying, another human being would sit at his or her bedside until they went? Not now.

    All too busy with important things.

    Sorry I’ve gone on a bit but all this both sickens and distresses me.

  5. As a counsellor commited to caring for young people in mental distress, and trained to deal with self-harm, working in a educational establishment, I have been utterly horrifed at the *treatment* some of my clients have received through NHS psychiatric services. I am so sorry about your friend, but not surprised. My prayers are with you xx

    • Autumn
      I think it is a true scandal. What on earth is being taught to these nurses and doctors.
      One pych thought my friend was ok because she appeared more cheerful as the session went on! For crying out loud- that is hardly unusual when someone is putting on a front!
      God bless you in the work you do. Thank God someone is doing it!

  6. My condolences and prayers for your friend and their family.

    I came to this Blog by accident. What a massive website … it’ll take me ages to read what you have here.

    God bless.

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