"Mental health environment"

About: Carseview Centre / General Psychiatry Whytemans Brae Hospital

(as the patient),

I have previously been resident in Tayside so have some (mainly positive) experiences of the mental health services there and also with Carseview as a physical place. No mental health department/building is ever exactly 'glamorous' but Carseview is at least neutral, clean and non-threatening.

Unfortunately during a recent episode of worsened mental health my GP asked me to go for an urgent assessment, entirely reasonable in the circumstances. However, due to 'administration' I had to then travel to Ravenscraig Ward, around 20 miles away, rather than being able to go to any of the Tayside services (a couple of miles away). This was frustrating but I guess thats just how it works.

I was quite shocked though by my experience in Fife, relative to Tayside. Bearing in mind I was in a pretty unhappy state at the time, this was not at all helped by my visit to Ravenscraig. It was hectic, dingy, messy and in a poor state of decor/upkeep. Staff were clearly harassed and there was also no clear reception area, we had to wander around the corridors sticking our heads in offices until we were noticed by someone (some of the offices being empty and unsupervised - hello, security and data protection? ). We then waited in the 'waiting area' - an area that is poorly lit and shabby, pretty intimidating/scary when you're unwell, before I went in for my assessment.

This may be the 'best' part - the department was so busy/short on space that I was assessed in a storage room. Sat on a lounge chair that had clearly been put away for repair, surrounded by stacks of chairs and boxes. The member of staff who assessed me was perfectly fine and did their job well enough but the environment was just awful. When you're in psychological distress and scared of the prospect of being admitted anyway, encountering a physical space like that was just awful. I'd have said pretty much anything if it would've let me leave again and not stay there.

My boyfriend stayed outside the building while I was assessed, as it was too 'grim' for him to bear (as a perfectly healthy and stable person). I made it through my assessment and we left to go about our rather long trip home again.

I realise that funding is tight for the NHS and especially mental health services (which is terrible but thats another story altogether) but a few basic things could make a whole lot of difference, some decent or upkept lighting, better signage or a 'reception', and an assessment room rather than a storage cupboard. Surely not so hard?

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Responses

Response from Alison Moss, Feedback Manager, NHS Tayside

Dear “PatientZero”

Thank you for your feedback about Carseview and glad to hear your experiences in the main have been positive. We are always glad to receive feedback.

Kind regards.

Alison Moss

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Response from Louise Ewing, Patient Relations Manager, NHS Fife We are preparing to make a change

picture of Louise Ewing

Dear Patient Zero

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your recent experience at Ravenscraig. I take your point about the importance of environment and calm at a time of personal difficulty and was I sorry you did not experience this. I have passed your story on to the Management Team to ask them to consider your observations and to let me know if they can do anything practical in relation to the suggestions you make. I have since been asked to offer you the opportunity to meet with one of the Service Managers to discuss this further. Please let me know if you would like to meet.

Kind Regards

Louise Ewing

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Update posted by PatientZero (the patient)

Dear Louise,

I appreciate you taking my feedback seriously and also the invitation to meet with a service manager. Although I do really value the attempt to engage with patients/myself, I would prefer not to on this occasion - I fear being identified and known as an "outspoken" or "nuisance" patient and any impact this would have on my future treatment or care.

I would, however, be happy to provide an email address for communication if you felt there was anything I could contribute that way.

Thank you.

Response from Louise Ewing, Patient Relations Manager, NHS Fife

picture of Louise Ewing

Dear PatientZero

Thanks for getting back to me so promptly. You are not alone in feeling the way you describe sadly as we know from research that often people will not feedback for fear of repercussion.

Whilst I spend a lot of my time trying to convince folks of the real value in feeding back, many still wish to remain anonymous. That is one of the great things about Patient Opinion, it allows you to remain anonymous yet still allows you to provide feedback. We are currently looking at ways of trying to get more feedback using this method as we recognise it's worth.

I am happy to speak to the Service Manager directly to see if there are any changes that can be made to the environment and to feedback to you here.

Regards

Louise

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