"Heroin use and a life of crime."

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Addiction services (community) Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / The Woodlands (inpatient unit for substance misuse)

(as a staff member posting for a patient/service user),

I started using heroin about 11 years ago. I committed acquisitive crime to fund my habit and had spells in and out of prison. About 2 years ago I decided to try to quit as I hated myself and the life I was leading. I made this decision for myself, because you have to quit for yourself. But the main reason I wanted to quit was for my young daughter who was starting to ask questions. I was seeing a drug worker at Direct Access, who asked me if I wanted to go to The Woodlands. The Woodlands is a brilliant place. You get your own room with a bed, wardrobe and tv. I appreciated having my privacy and my own space; this was really important to me so that I could 'just have an hour' if I was feeling stressed. Also, after meds you can go to your room to sleep so you're not falling asleep in front of people. And we were separated from the girls, which was good.

The staff at The Woodlands are really good; they treat you with respect. There was an ex-user working as a peer support worker and she was brilliant. Because she had been through it she could understand and empathise with us. She inspired me and modelled what can be achieved. Every morning I used to go to a group session where we all set our goal for the day. This was a really positive experience as it gave me something to work on throughout the day. Mostly I liked things at The Woodlands, but there were a few things that I didn't like, such as the beds. They had a plastice cover on them and it made you sweat. The food wasn't too good either and there wasn't enough of it. Also I didn't like the smoking cages, they reminded me of jail.

The workers really try hard to make it a positive experience. They take you out into town and take you on bike rides. I'm going back home soon and I'm determined to keep it up.

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Response from Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Firstly, I'd like to thankyou for taking the time to give us this feedback. Its very heartening to know that not only did you find your experience at The Woodlands a positive one, but we have helped you make such a different in your life! It's why we do what we do.

We try to treat every service user we see with the respect they deserve. Having worked in the area for 15 years now I can still only imagine how hard it is to walk through our doors. As you've found, our peer support worker is invaluable, having experienced working alongside someone with lived experience of substance misuse I don't think we'd ever want to be without peer support workers again. It also sounds as though you engaged well with The Woodlands recovery programme.

I'm sorry to hear that certain aspects of your care were not up to the same high standard but I hope I can reassure you that we are taking your suggestions further. We will look into options for the beds: we have to satisfy infection control standards but there may be ways we can make these more comfortable. We have smoking shelters currently on order so that our service users are more comfortable and sheltered whilst smoking and we are liaising closely with our kitchens to try and not only improve the quality of the food but also include our service users more closely in the planning of the menus.

Once again, thankyou for your feedback and we all wish you a continued positive recovery.

Kevin Howard

Woodlands Deputy Manager