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.