"My time on the Lucy Wade unit"
About: Millbrook Mental Health Unit Millbrook Mental Health Unit G17 4JL
Posted by Etiak (as ),
This was my first encounter of any psychiatric ward, I didn’t expect a hotel spa, I was quite prepared for it to be hard, as it is for everyone, but this experience still horrifies me.
The lack of compassion and care I felt was truly terrifying, small things like reading notes didn’t seem to be done, this you would expect to be done whatever hospital you in, psychiatric or not. I felt that the people providing care broke trust with many patients. Keeping the patients happy felt very secondary to themselves,
I felt very much like all care staff were waiting to tick out, and would openly express how they couldn’t wait to go home, the day space was very small, but it was apparent that most professionals would avoid your looks, and avoid you in their stride. Most would congregate in the small office space, sometimes the door was shut, leaving patients feeling abandoned. Sometimes you didn’t know that staff were in until you saw them leave. The day room was filled with colour in pages such as winnie the pooh, basic flowers, and varicose cartoon characters and unicorns, and ironically frustration. I felt this was patronising, and insulting at best.
I arrived in the evening and was later given my ‘night time medication’ I knew that my tablets were blue at night not white, but trusted that they knew what they were doing, it became clear they had mixed the two around. Sertraline is quite a commonly used and prescribed antidepressant, and was what I was started off when working with the crisis team before admission who had given the hospital a fair amount of notes about my referral and difficulties, and medicinal information. the notes highlighted my difficulties in regards to being ignored and unheard, and unimportant, (but I believe all patients are just as vulnerable if not more) and this medicine was given to me at night by a nurse (only a nurse can give medication to a patient as opposed to a health care assistant) any basic print out of this medicine will clearly instruct to take in the morning, never at night.
I was shocked as it is so commonly known, and she should be familiar with the antidepressant. Although I made this clear, and how swapping it around made me feel uneasy, I was ignored, and my input on the matter felt completely dismissed. And they continued to do this for the duration of my time I was there,
I don’t menstruate, so never really looked into the sanitary bin, but a week in to my stay, there was a smell, and insects, and it was full to the brim, and god knows how long it had been there, one woman couldn’t possibly have filled this bin? I asked somebody to promptly move it, as the smell was getting worse, I was assured the problem was resolved, only to find they had swapped the bin with another equally filled bin, and on a few occasion there were ants in the bed.
There was blood and snot from the last patient on the wall, at the top of bed, were the pillow lay, which was distressing enough, as well as being denied my proper medication, but in addition a man at the door of my room, sat eating just staring in, and from time to time reading his book. Countless times being refused any sleeping medication ( which I took in the community anyway ), I was allowed to pace and struggle till hours as late as 5am,
But nobody had read my notes, and didn’t realise that trying to sleep, with a man waiting for me to do so, would only create more trauma,
When you are admitted, you have your blood taken, I had mine taken three times because they had forgotten to test the first 2, and left it sitting over in the lab for 5 days, and the first two were untestable for this reason. I didn’t have ward round, for 2 weeks, although, it is compulsory to have a basic care plan within 48 hours, (I was admitted on a Friday night, and on Tuesday I had still herd nothing)
for me there was no plan, no structure was put in place, and nobody knew anything about me, and I found this difficult enough outside of hospital, and I took it very personally, every time I was promised a review, a different doctor would take me on, and I never met the first two, or I was told I was forgotten. I was frustrated, and nobody even told me if this had happened, so id usually be left waiting until id ask.
Due to no review, I was on high observation longer than a week, although I was being monitored quite highly, I was still watched squirming by members of staff as large, intimidating gentlemen, would sit next to me, as I ate my lunch in the canteen, I was told that I wasn’t allowed my dinner on the wards. And they would still watch me squirm. Again, not doing something as basic as reading notes, I’m sure from as little as I’ve said you can imagine what my issue is. Even if you can’t, you’re not being paid to do so, so that’s okay.
There was no activities board, and no knitting group, despite what they tell you. There was a crafts group on Mondays, where all patients were offered the chance to make crafts, the theme was ‘mad hatters tea party’, we were not allowed to keep these crafts, and they would be decorations for the staff ball. The theme alone feels laughable, due to the circumstances, but was also free labour to decorate a ‘Mad hatters’ themed dance, to celebrate their hard work? it just seemed like another kick in the teeth.
My mum did kick up a fuss when I had explained all of this, I’m lucky that I have someone assertive enough to stand my corner, and know the ins and out of a psychiatric back ground. Who was able to spot all of the wrong, confirm that the level of care was poor, and not be embarrassed to say so, because it wasn’t all in my head?
I felt bad watching those who didn’t have that support, who didn’t really have visitors, or even those who did, but couldn’t fight back, or were not assertive enough. In that sense I’m lucky,
With it being a mixed wards, there were different levels of care and intensive care that had to be met, and I felt like I was being overlooked, god knows how long other patients have felt this way, can they get better here? Has it made them worse? That is what haunts me. The others had it worse, I grew close to some of the female patients,
I watched a very vulnerable female patient restrained and forcibly medicated.
I believe there could have been other ways to resolve this. And if they knew anything about her, they would realise that by even suggesting that, as a form of action to take is so inappropriate.
There was another elderly woman, who had difficulty dressing herself, and being mobile. She had a few problems and I think this would have been helped by staff talking to her and spending more time with her.
On another occasion I heard a nurse talk about the personal details of a patient that had come in, due to lack of care about confidentiality.
This was a temporary stay for me I urged to be moved closer to home, as there is a massive shortage of beds in the country, I really had to push, and this is where I stayed until I was transferred to a hospital in my area. Were the care was amazing, and I learnt that people in the health care system, are not all so cold, and will take every moment of their shift to be with you. You were properly cared for, Nurses and HCA got to know what made you tick, and learnt who you were, and could tell if you were okay or not because of a bond that was made. I spoke to a lady there about my experience. She knew Lucy Wade, and she also agreed that it has brought shame to her name and shared concerns about the care there.
I’m writing this because I feel it’s important to protect vulnerable people. I’m not doing it to shame the hospital. I am urging anyone to just be more aware of this sector of the care system, it’s often overlooked.
I’ve been told that it is compulsory for the hospital reply, so I await in anticipation.