"The Brandon Mental Health Unit, Stretton Ward, Leicester"

About: Adult Mental Health and Learning Disabilities / Adult Community Mental Health Teams

(as a relative),

My mother was admitted to the Brandon Mental Health Unit, The Stretton Ward, in early April 2011 – her stay only lasted a total of four days due to the atmosphere which did not aid her recovery process, but instead deterred it rapidly.

Upon arrival at the ward my mother and I went to the reception and were given what I thought were odd looks and simply told to go and sit in a room which we found very dingy and depressing, for an hour. No one welcomed us to the ward, nor did anyone check on us whilst we were waiting and update us on the doctor’s arrival.

When the doctor finally arrived a student nurse entered the room with two other women with her, who also claimed to be students. She simply sat down and started to talk to my mother, which felt like an attack, with very intrusive questions and seemed to give no allowance to the clear fragile state she was in; I understand they must learn, but no qualified doctor was present and I do not appreciate my mother being treated in that way. It felt to me like she was being treated like a freak show case study. To my knowledge, when students enter (usually with a doctor, which was not the case) the patient must be asked if it is okay, but this never happened; this resulted in me kindly asking the students to leave and that we would wait for the doctor.

We waited for another hour.

The doctor finally arrived (well this was a consultant and still not the doctor) and she was very kind and patient and took her time which resulted in a calm 45 minute assessment. After this we waited for another hour – this lead to my frustration, as my mother was clearly in need of care and all we had done is wait in this awful room. It felt to me like we’d been shown no consideration.

So, I went to the reception to ask what was happening as we were now leading up to having spent a whole afternoon in the one room. I feel this question was met by utter rudeness. Two members of staff just looked at me and did not seem to know what was happening. I found them very uncaring, and found their attitude inappropriate when working in such a place. One member of staff responded with “you will have to see the nursing office” and looked back down at their papers. I went to the nursing office, and another member of staff responded to my question with “we are busy at the moment, you will have to wait.” My family and I were appalled by all of this.

So we went back to wait.

Finally my mother was called to the doctor. Then I was asked to go in and speak to him myself after a short while. The doctor was a very nice, gentle man.

We then went back to the room to wait some more.

My mother was then asked by the nurses I’d found rude to go to her dorm. There was absolutely no property check, which I believe is a necessity in most wards in different counties. I would be utterly shocked if you were to respond saying that your policy does not require you to do such things. Phone chargers are banned within the ward, which I can 100% understand, but I saw patients sitting in the dorms with laptops and charger leads, left completely unattended for hours. Where is the logic in this? Throughout my visits it seemed that patients could bring in anything.

Over my visits, from the first time I entered, there was a woman who lay on the floor within the reception area. Absolutely NO one attended to her. People just walked past her continuously. This resulted in my mother’s partner and I asking the reception why they weren’t helping her, they responded by saying that they check on her a couple of times. This doesn’t feel to me like there is an element of care? Patients should surely have things to keep them motivated, things to brighten up the day, group activities. Of the staff that I encountered, I didn’t feel that many seemed to care. I find it utterly disgusting and I shall never let my mother be admitted there again, as I believe she has come out sicker than she went in.

I understand that being a mental health worker is a highly challenging job, but this also means that the right people need to be employed to suit the criteria for such a role and in essence provide the necessary care to such fragile patients.

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