Saturday, 26 January 2013

locked doors at community mental health drop-ins

Friday 25 January 2013

I received a letter today from, in response to a complaint I'd made about a service funded by statutory agencies. The service was a sort of drop-in but with a locked door. I say 'sort of' for this mental health service that is 'in the community', is run by a voluntary sector housing organisation but does not have an open door policy.

Like a day hospital but locked door, from the outside. You can get out once you're in but can't get in if you're out. On the day I visited last year, it was in response to a recommendation from the local carers' project who said I should drop by this facility and I might buy some lunch. I thought "good idea" so dropped by, rang the bell, they let me in and I bought a roll and a drink.

Nothing was said to me at this point that I shouldn't be there. I've been there before and had lunch. So I sat down with my roll and drink, and was immediately joined by one the workers. Who asked me questions and didn't answer any of mine. It was a one-sided conversation, a bit like when I was a patient in a psychiatric ward. Very odd. Then when I finished my roll and there were no other service users about the worker said that I shouldn't have come in, a person had to be referred to attend.

And so began a most uncomfortable exchange. Another patient/service user came through the room and spoke to me, saying I could maybe come in another day when it was quieter. I said no I couldn't because I had to be referred and then suddenly 3 other workers appeared behind the food counter, joining in the conversation. The service user disappeared. Four against one, me. It felt like bullying and intimidation. I tried to speak civilly but the man in charge turned his back on me as I spoke, me sitting, he standing. I was dismissed.

I let myself out the locked door and fled to the safety of my car, thankful I wasn't a service user that had to be referred to this facility 'in the community'. Would anyone want to attend voluntarily? Maybe they would if they had the choice. I've been there before and it was quite enjoyable. They have different activities, music groups, football, snooker, other stuff.  But this time there were different staff on duty. 

My complaint to the organisation that runs the locked door drop-in wasn't upheld. They say I wasn't made to feel unwelcome even though I say I was made to feel unwelcome, and under pressure. The social work Service Manager, with the support of health services, agree with the organisation, that my views are "individual" and obviously not representative of the other folk who have to attend this locked facility.  Wonder if there is a choice?  Of anything else?

It's like having a choice of a tin of beans or a tin of spaghetti. I would rather have a fish supper. So there you have it. Only positive feedback welcome at these mental health facilities. If you have any complaints well keep them to yourself for you're only going to get a letter of complaint back, saying that you are the odd one out and everyone else is happy.

I don't believe it!

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