"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

About: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust / Inpatient mental health care

(as the patient),

A few months now since my discharge from the Edith Cavell centre. Am now discharged into the care of my GP from the community services team.

The type of care I got when back in the community was very different from that when I was an in patient.

Firstly, in my experience, no one seemed to talk to each other?

A day or so before I was discharged I go to see one of the community based psychologists.

Sadly, a tell me your story session. It appears that my notes remain at the Cavell centre? The hospital where I spent 3 weeks and where I am still an in patient. So we sort of start again. Not sure whether that's a good thing or not, but as a service user no one explains why this procedure is adopted. Bearing in mind, you are at a stage in the recovery process when you feel quite vulnerable.......Do they do this as a part of the recovery plan? All planned or because the system doesn't allow them access to the notes. Still......

As I am regarded as a priority case I get my 1st appointment with my care coordinator, a mere 3 weeks after discharge. Lucky I am a priority user - pity those that are not.

So off we go on the road to hopefully recovery rather than remission.

The big point is that you don't get told how you are going to make it. Either because the staff realise you are still not well and might not cope or they don't think you need to know, or it's not a process they consider.

Looking back now, you realise that the only way you are going to get well and recover is down to you, no one else. Yep its DIY SOS. Not that is necessarily an issue but at the time, you don't realise it.

So we settle in to work streams and pieces of work, I had my care plan but at the end of the day it was down to me to sort myself out.

The staff dealing with Employment and Leisure issues and skills run through their paces and get results, issues that affect your mental health or maybe they are the issue - progress well.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I was still trying to get myself together. Whilst assisting in getting employment and being involved in group activities are all great stuff, the basic fundamental point remains untreated. Or is there nothing else to be done? I am not deemed too ill that I need to have sessions with a psychologist - whether that's the case, who knows, as the message I got from the people I encountered was that they are short of resources. They don't always tell you face to face but from the cryptic replies and their body language I thought it was obvious.

Getting to grips with your illness "Any of various conditions characterized by impairment of an individual's normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma. Also called emotional illness, mental disease, mental disorder."

The sad thing is like so many Health services there are stacks of really nice dedicated people who want to help but in my experience the organisation seemed to take them over. Spending time chasing around dealing with political issues, keeping the managers at bay before they, the managers, embark on another reorganisation or fly off to another NHS body to reorganise them before the results of their actions come to light. If you could capture all the cost and effort put in by the Professional Managers over all the years you could have solved the meaning of life itself!

So whilst the associated issues are addressed, and indeed some may be the cause arguably or contributory factors "to the illness", there was no actual plan to treat the illness in my case. Unless the illness is just everything else pulled together.

As light relief one is asked to complete a service user survey on an Ipad. The usual type of questions not unlike most customer surveys.

If I can recall correctly the final question asks "How likely are you to recommend our services to others?" WTF!

Well what a strange question to ask, am I going to be in a position to suggest the service to anyone? Don't they get referred to the service by their GP? Maybe the person who cut and pasted this survey from Tesco forgot to delete the last question. Maybe CPFT could offer a reward card, service users could collect points for referring friends and colleagues. A free week in the Priory with a celebrity of your choice.

And so we come to nearing discharge. Any questioning I asked of the treatment was met by a defensive response. You don't need CBT and there is not much else they could offer they said. Time to get you off our books and back to your GP, another success story.

So here we go - where next? I apply for a job. Candidates are especially welcome who have lived with experience of mental health problems. Wonder if 'problems' is the right word, theirs not mine...

Still might be lucky and an interview would boost my confidence a 1000%.

Our definition of recovery is “Recovery is not about ‘getting rid of problems’. It is about seeing people beyond their problems – their abilities, possibilities, interests, and dreams and recovering the social roles and relationships that give life value and meaning”. Our aim - is to have a significant number of people working here with lived experience of mental health problems. Our values - ‘we focus on the needs of the whole person’ and ‘we trust value and support each other’ endorse and embed those intentions.

Note the use of the word problem.

"We listen attentively to what people think and feel about our services, and to their ideas about how we might improve. We also believe that if our services are to be the best, we must train and develop all our staff."

All good stuff.

And as we get to the end of this tale a potentially happy ending. I am plagued by calls of 'you are uninterested in what we say', 'you don't listen' from the family. I keep trying to think why am I still ill? What am I doing wrong? I am listening, I do care. Then the answer maybe, hopefully.

I find out that I am partially deaf in both ears, certain frequencies I just don't hear, like a sort of selective deafness - have had it for years apparently.

So I now await the NHS queue for my hearing aids. If I am lucky I might get some really big ones to match my NHS glasses so if you see me in the street don't say anything or I'll know you have read my story!

Thankfully I still have my partner and family so there is real hope for the future.

DEFINITIONS FOR THOSE WHO NEED THEM

Care co-ordinator/key worker

The person who is responsible for making sure that your care is properly planned and you get the help you need. They will usually work with a community mental health team and will be the person you see most often. They will usually be a Community Psychiatric Nurse, social worker or occupational therapist.

Community mental health team

Multi-disciplinary team offering specialist assessment, treatment and care to people in their own homes and the community.

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