"Frustrated with lack of help from Crisis Team"

About: Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust / Crisis resolution

(as the patient),

I have mental health problems and every so often my symptoms flare up leaving me feeling dreadfully ill and distressed. I live alone with no support network at all and no friends, because of my illness. Most of the time I am able to cope but sometimes when I feel so ill I cannot cope.

My GP has put me in contact with my local Crisis Team on a couple of occasions. When they have come to the house they ALWAYS say -

Take a perfumed bath, light candles

Write a timetable of your day

Go for a walk.

I feel that the staff are almost like Pavlov's dogs, always repeating the same old clichés which I have told them don't work. And then they calmly walk out of the house, leaving me feeling ill and distressed and completely alone. And they tell me that someone will be in touch "tomorrow", when they go through the whole thing again.

My question is - Is that really all they can offer in the way of help?

I undertook psychiatric nurse training in the 1970s and I honestly feel that more care was given to ill people then than it is now. It doesn't seem like I am offered any genuine care and nursing.

I know that when I feel as ill as I sometimes do, then I would welcome hospital admission, with someone just "being there" to even make a cup of tea, and lift the responsibility and pressure of ordinary living, until I am able to cope by myself again. But it feels to me like Crisis Teams exist to keep people out of hospital at all costs.

It is my view that keeping people in their own homes however they feel, is nothing to do with allowing people independence, (because sometimes when I am ill, the independence and complete isolation is horrible) but it exists -

a) to keep hospital beds free however ill someone feels

b) because it is cheaper to keep people in their own homes than to tie up a hospital bed

I feel such a lot of anxiety and distress about the lack of proper help I feel I have been given, because I know that I am likely to be unwell again, and I feel sure that I won't get the help I need. I am so worried about it.

Could anyone please comment and perhaps give me advice as to how to access proper nursing help if the Crisis Team won't help? it would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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Response from Elizabeth Moody, Associate Director of Nursing, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your comments. Your views are important to help us to develop our services. We are concerned that you have had unsatisfactory experiences with the crisis team and are still worried about the support you may receive in the future if you need help. The Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team offers short-term assessment of needs and will work with people to negotiate a care plan of interventions to help until their crisis period is resolved. Their aim is to assist most people to remain safely at home although they can arrange hospital admission where this is not possible, taking into account the risks associated with their crisis. I am sorry to hear you did not find the care offered was tailored to meet your needs. With regard to the advice you were given, I would expect the crisis team staff to develop a care plan with you taking into account any current stressors and promoting your ‘strengths,’ specifically agreeing plans to ensure your understanding of triggers to crisis and a clear strategy to assist you when you are feeling anxious or distressed. In some circumstances the interventions you mention can prove to be helpful, but we are aware that peoples needs vary over time and therefore require different sorts of response. Given your posting, we would like to speak to you further about this so we can explore your experience and address how you can be better supported in the future when you need help. Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Trust cover a large geographical area and have five crisis teams in different areas so it may be helpful for someone to review the care provided directly with you in order to provide a service that meets your needs. Should you wish to do so, you may contact the Crisis team manager, Fiona Kilburn by e-mail or on 01670 396603.
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