"I think that we should be treated like the young people we are and not just silly teenagers who are playing up"

About: Stobhill Hospital / Skye Unit (Glasgow Adolescent Inpatient Unit)

(as the patient),

I've been admitted to Skye House twice and I found my first admission to be more helpful when I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder than the second. In my view the attitudes within the whole unit had changed in a negative way and the general atmosphere was very clinical. I admitted myself to Skye House as I was in danger to myself and was taken in for a medication change which resulted in me eventually going into a mixed episode where it wasn't recognized.

My parents had told staff that I was very unwell as I was unable to see I was ill myself at that point. I became increasingly agitated, irritable, and it led to psychosis. Due to this I couldn't go home because I felt very frightened even though I wasn't sure what I was frightened of. I started to write letters of how I was feeling as I was aware of what was happening at that point but they were dismissed because I was just seen as being nothing more than anxious. I became increasingly suicidal, impulsive and volatile which is the opposite of how I really am. I took out my frustration on what was around me. I smashed my guitar that I loved to make sure I didn't hurt anyone as I was terrified and out of control. During this time, I tried to run away and I was restrained repeatedly from which I was bruised quite badly. I was also sectioned at this time.

There was a delay in me getting an anti-psychotic medication which led to unnecessary suffering. In this period I was told to behave and stop being silly. I was very ill and one staff member told me to do ten press-ups and wouldn't give me my PRN as I didn't appear to be agitated enough. I cried all the time, my mood was changing constantly, and no-one appeared to know how to help.

There were a few staff who sat with me and listened to me and understood how I was feeling and treated me like a person rather than a patient. They always talked away about anything and everything and always had a sense of humour. I wish all staff could adopt these approaches as it makes such a difference when you are at your lowest.

At times when young people on the ward were more stable there were staff who were more than willing to take us out even just for a walk or a drive which was always appreciated. Psychology was rather poor and disappointing. The one to one sessions were never individualized. It was for all illnesses and I think it was expected that we were to fit in to what was offered and accept that. There was a problem with medical staffing. This led to locum Doctors, many of whom didn't speak English as their first language and staff had to translate between patients and doctors which was frustrating as you need to be able to be understood and to understand what the doctor is saying. It can be demoralizing.

I think for the young people like myself who are in an alien environment, we should be treated like the young people we are and not just silly teenagers who are playing up. You feel vulnerable being away from all comforts and I think the attitude should be more understanding and less clinical. Even when I was more stable when I tried to make myself heard I was told I had misinterpreted, misunderstood and misconstrued what was being said to me and how I was being treated. I wish many staff could just imagine what it is like to live a day in my head and maybe they wouldn't be so judgmental which is ironic considering the job they are in.

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Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Magneto,

I am sorry to hear that you thought some of your experiences in Skye House were not positive and that you felt that at times some staff were not listening to you or were dismissive of you. It is good to hear that there were some staff who you felt had a much better approach. We have training and supervision structures in place which are intended to make sure that all of the staff treat patients with respect and use the same approaches.

Skye House is a place where young people are often seriously unwell and require medication. It is often the case that there is good reason for a delay in commencing patients on medications. This can sometimes be about the side effects of medication or checking that there are no other health issues which could be made worse by a particular medication.

Some of the behaviours you describe would be considered unacceptable e.g. being made to do 'press ups' or being told not to be 'silly'. I would be happy to investigate your complaint in more detail if you contact the complaints department in NHS GG&C.

You were also concerned that at the time of your stay in Skye House there were a number of locum doctors and that led to difficulties in understanding them. For a period of time we did require to use locum doctors and this did cause some difficulties. We try not to use locum doctors when at all possible however on this occasion we had no other alternatives. I am sorry that this caused you some difficulties.

I agree with you that young people should be treated like the young people they are. Their illness should be understood and respected and they should not be assumed to be just 'acting up'.

We would have preferred it if you had been able to highlight these issues at the time as we could have helped you during your stay in Skye House. We have advocacy staff in Skye House who could have helped support you to do that. Without more detail from you however, it is difficult for me to investigate the individual incidents and behaviours you raise.

I have raised these issues with our senior staff and will raise them again at further staff meetings.

You may know that Skye House has a 'young people’s group' and I will ask that the issues you have raised, particularly that of attitudes, is highlighted at that group and that young people are offered the opportunity to comment on attitudes and if necessary how we could all help to change them in a positive way.

Stephen McLeod, Head of Specialist Children’s Services, NHS GG&C

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