Yesterday I dropped by Stratheden Hospital to check on the environmental improvements. As usual I went into the shop for refreshments and got chatting to the long-stay patients or the Left Behind as described by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.
A woman about my age, 60, came up and spoke to me, she's been a psychiatric inpatient for 10 years or more. I'd first got into conversation with this woman about 18 months ago, when she expressed a desire to move back to her home town, about 25mls away. She's an articulate woman, good at knitting and sociable. I remember her saying back then that the nurses didn't think she'd manage 'in the community'. Although she travels regularly out of the hospital by bus and train to visit her sister who still lives in their home town.
I asked her how the plans for moving were going. But there didn't seem to be anything happening and she said that there were no sheltered housing facilities in her home town that had warden support. I knew this couldn't be right because in a previous job with a college I'd visited a sheltered complex in this town. I asked if she had an advocate, she did and named him. So today I phoned and spoke to the advocate, have also Emailed the council managers about this.
There is a discharge programme for long-stay patients at Stratheden which has been ongoing for at least a couple of years, with around one and a half million pounds set aside for the task, transferred I believe from NHS Fife to Fife Council, with 45 patients originally having been identified as ready for discharge.
I'm wondering why I'm hearing stories from patients that the paid workers aren't? As in where a person wants to live. And how difficult can it be to arrange this transition? Are the stories of the left behind being heard and listened to? And where is the peer support in all of this? The social work service tell me that peer support is valuable but I'm seeing little evidence of peer support of people with lived experience being put into practice.