"Poor elderly mental health facilities and treatment"

About: Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust / Older People's Community Mental Health Buckinghamshire

(as a carer),

I have had a similar experience to "Still holding on".

Agreed Oxfordshire Mental Health Services do not practice what they preach. Well you wont get much better treatment at the Whiteleaf centre for the elderly vulnerable over 65's; So much for Therapeutic environment promised. They had been left in cold conditions having to wear coats and trousers/socks to bed with extra blankets which continues with reprieves on sunny days until the temperatures drop at night, they've been so cold and management don't seem to be able to sort it out with underfloor heating which is never on, unlike the warm staff building and visitor areas, patient individual showers which have a small button they push and the shower only lasts under 30 seconds! ! !

Outrageous way to treat our elderly who need longer to shower, not even an able bodied athlete could be expected to shower in under 30 seconds, these elderly are not being valued and respected and expected to whilst showering keep pushing a tiny flat button in the wall! ! Utterly ridiculous.

The bath never worked when needed to use it. The sinks have no plugs so patients are denied the dignity of being able to wash properly either having a electric squirting hot water for so many seconds or an electric squirting cold water for some seconds to try to wash with. It's a joke they can't fill their sinks to have proper washes and mix the water to a suitable temperature.

When it first opened there wasn't even any sanitising get in any of the containers for staff/patients and visitors entering and leaving for weeks if not months until it was raised as an issue. There have been a lack of therapies/activities, there is no decoration on the walls drab unlike the staff building/visitor centre and cafe, bare grey uninspiring, the gardens are mud and grass, against totally unlike the lovely planting in the visitor centre and the visitor cafeteria.

You can get the trend, by now I should think, the management have clearly got their priorities right haven't they, the most vulnerable at the bottom of the pile. The chiropody service the patients used to have has been withdrawn, the coffee area that used to have tables families could sit round with their coffees and play games on/puzzles etc. has gone and been replaced with a ridiculous sink and fridge in the corridor with a hot water dispenser and a cupboard that is never supplied correctly with sugar, coffee, tea, sufficient cups nor milk for patients nor visitors and is totally unsociable and removes the opportunities for socialisation.

Patients have no hangers in their cupboards on which to hang their skirts/dresses/trousers/coats etc. Just beggars belief how this place was passed to open and let patients in with all these problems and nothing on their walls, they used to have clocks, notice boards to pin pictures to, etc. here bland nothingness for these patients that need distracting from their depression and mental health issues (more than the visitors need). The old wards had the information sheet in every patient bedroom detailing patient name, treating doctor, assigned nurse, etc. and even these basic details are still not up in each patient room and this is 8 months later that the place is still not 'therapeutic'. Staff are struggling and many have left, 10-20, so staff retention is poor since the move into this new fantastic environment!

There have been staff shortages and the continuity of care for patients is reduced due to the constant changes in staff since the move into these premises. Involvement with Care Plans leaves much to be desired. Really feel for the staff whose job is clearly made more difficult. The kitchen area for therapeutic cooking is worse than the last, unfortunately apart from dedicated staff who are genuinely trying to help the environment is cold and prison-like with high fencing and starkness and no friendly warmth.

It is a more debilitating environment for patients, which ok is set up for high end suicide risk patients but by that very nature it is therefore restrictive for patients that need to keep up with having control over ie. temperature of their washing or shower water, having a table to sit around with family, they are cut off from the world in this place and it really isn't an acceptable way to treat our elderly.

Also without knowledge to families, patients and perhaps staff, Management chose to amalgamate the dementia patients into the same ward as the mental health patients with ie. anxiety, depression etc. and this has created an even less therapeutic environment for those who do not suffer dementia.

We are very sad that there isn't any proper full programmes of rehabilitation for these elderly patients, yet there seems to be for under 65's at Whiteleaf with a dedicated rehabilitation structure/facilities? ? Is this true? These certainly are not 'Amazing Facilities' Quite the opposite I am sorry to say so you may be getting a better deal where you are even though your conditions are poor too!

To summarise:

- There are not adequate facilities or personal activity plans

- Inadequate heating facilities

- Poor advocacy, activities and regular copies of care plans

- Bedroom notices and essential info are poor

- Care plan meetings are poor

- Quality time with patients is poor

- The showers could be improved as they do not work properly

- There is no proper structure to rehabilitation

- Poor telephone facilities

- However, the staff are trying to do their best

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your email detailing your experiences about the facilities for our elderly patients at the Whiteleaf Centre, Aylesbury. I was very sorry to hear that aside from you noting that staff are 'trying to do their best', the greater part of the issues that you have raised have not been so good. I wonder if you would be prepared to give us the opportunity to discuss this matter further with you and to see what Oxford Health might be able to do in order to resolve this matter. With this in mind I wonder whether you would be prepared to contact us (see details below). However I would like to reassure you that I will be bringing this matter to the attention of senior management within the Older Adult Directorate.

Once again, I am sorry to read of your poor experience and only hope that we can look into this matter and hopefully ensure that moving forward any future involvement that you have will be more positive.


Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

The Warneford Hospital, Oxford

& The Whiteleaf Centre, Aylesbury

Tel: 0800 328 7971

E-mail: pals@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk