Mental Health Unit FVRH
Mental Health Unit FVRH
The mental health unit in Forth Valley Royal Hospital is, unfortunately, evidently underfunded with detrimental effects to patients and staff alike, leaving none with any power to effect the changes that need to be made as a matter of honest urgency for the sake of individuals who have fallen through the cracks of the system, for the individuals who are degraded by the system, and for the staff whom are powerless to help these individuals because of standards set: 1. In the past, before new knowledge of mental health came to light and 2. By people who have no direct experience of living within these rules/standards.
Therefore, it is imperative that care is taken more seriously and that change is effected. Within the law, medical professionals are given the authority to treat and detain patients without consent when regarded as having a mental disorder. This is fundamentally both wrong and right. The act itself is extremely healthy and can help individuals be prevented from harming themselves or others. However, where the issues arise is further down the line.
When an individual is detained, they should be seen by a medical professional every day until their discharge, in order to both treat and assess their mental state. In reality, patients are exposed to their doctors for approximately 10 minutes 2 or 3 times a week. This is not suitable as it leaves patients detained for longer periods than may be necessary, in an environment which ultimately harmful to them over time. This is an emotional issue which has been overlooked by this establishment, mostly due to the fact that the doctors are overworked and not specifically assigned to the mental health ward, but the community also.
Furthermore, within the hospital there is an evident lack of care when it comes to the design of the mental health unit. Food is unhealthy, and given at strict set times. Patients are sometimes left for years without discharge due to situations outside the hospital which could be remedied with proper organised social care for any patients who need it/request it. There is no therapy on the ward. Even when psychologists are requested they do not appear. There are, recently, plans put in place to have group therapy sessions with patients and psychologists. This is an excellent idea, however in order to adhere to patient privacy rights there really needs to be one on one therapy available for all patients.
More listening needs to happen between doctors and patients, and more discussions need to be had before decisions are made. The doctors and other professionals often make decisions for patients without any discussion, then bombard these patients with what is going to be done to/for them without any talking to the patient themselves. And, furthermore, without any assessing of their mental state from the medical professionals. In fact, the meetings where this information is given to patients, are actually the very same meetings where their mental state is supposed to be assessed and discussed. Really this should happen before any decisions are made for the patient. Otherwise, the doctors are blindly presuming what could help a patient without any regard to them as an individual.
As learnt through experience, each case is individual. This is a point often brought up by staff. Therefore, there is no one size fits all solution for patients. With this in mind, one can clearly see the issue of decisions being made about patients without a true, professional assessment of them or their situation being had. Speaking with nurses is part of how these doctors make assessments for the patients. This is unsuitable, as the nurses do not actually see much of the patients except here and there. When doctors start listening to the points patients bring up about how the medicines make them feel, and make changes accordingly, then the ball can get moving with really treating patients.
Furthermore, doctors and nurses alike have verbalised that patients can decrease in state over time whilst being in the hospital. There are 2 reasons for this. 1. It is unhealthy to be in a false, imprisoned environment for prolonged periods of time. Prison is actually more free than this ward. 2. The medicine may well be unsuitable for the patient. Overtime, allowing patients to decline to such a level is a complete disregard of the care which medical professionals should adhere to.
Some situations in the outer world are why patients end up in the hospital for prolonged periods of time. This can be remedied with, as prior mentioned, readily available social workers as well as individuals who are able to help with issues such as benefits, social housing and social safety IE being removed from dangerous situations, where one is being abused for instance.
Within the hospital itself, change must be effected for the benefit of the patients. The strict times for eating and lack of availability of food/refreshments at any other time of the day is unreasonable. Having the canteen open for coffees and teas and food throughout the day would help remedy this.
Not all patients are afforded time off the ward, which is hugely beneficial for mental health. This should be an absolute standard for all patients, and there should be more uniformity across them for the patients to avoid unfair treatment. Organised walks with staff for multiple patients at once could help mental health, as the NHS themselves regard a short walk every day as a tool to help keep mental health well. Some patients are left inside the ward 24 hours a day which is ultimately harmful for their mental health. This is unacceptable.
There needs to be more activities, such as laptops or computers that patients can use to access the internet, more books for learning. A lot of activities and things to do are equivalent to that of primary school children, entirely disregarding the fact that these people are adults and for the most part entirely capable. For them, colouring in all day isn’t as fun as a 6 year old might find it.
Over time, boredom can lead to depression. Which, is, actually, what is trying to be avoided and in some cases treated for these individuals. Therefore, the issue of boredom needs to be addressed more seriously. Staff would have more time to interact with patients if they had admin assistants, for instance, to complete the tasks which they themselves are over qualified to do.
Physical observations are taken several times a day in this hospital. This is perplexing, as, in a mental health ward really mental state checks/mood checks should be taken throughout the day alongside these physical observations. And, fed back to the doctors who (as prior stated) should be seeing the patients within their care every day for clinical assessment. However, one's height isn’t as important as one’s mood in an acute mental health ward. The word “acute” should be pinpointed here, as some patients are genuinely in this hospital for months on end without any regard for them as equal humans, hurting them over time, when the ward itself is designed for short term cases.
With the above guidelines adhered to, the time in hospital can be much more healing for individuals suffering, much more smooth for professionals involved, and can see more patients being discharged with a positive attitude instead of being fearful of the system. In 2022, nearly 2023, the implications of the overlooked aspects of this hospital should be addressed, in order to make the situation better for both staff and patients. Overall, everyone appears to mean well and genuinely have good intentions for patients but the knowledge of how to really help these patients is missing due to a lack of listening to their perspective. This can be changed, and, the start of this change can be put forth by listening to the guidelines set out above.