Archives for posts with tag: section 3
The Acorn Programme at The Retreat

The Acorn Programme at The Retreat, York. After a long struggle it looks as if I might get the funding I need to go on this excellent programme, which offers specialist treatment to women suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder, such as myself. A big part of the treatment is the therapeutic community approach.

Hi, again.

Qualified staff tied up

Over the last four weeks I have spent time thinking about my care and the future, which felt bleak. During my admission, I have met some very nice people and on numerous occasions we sat together complaining about our level of care and our feelings of hopelessness. One of the main complaints was the lack of therapy and treatment, and it was apparent that the way the acute ward is run is based on observations, containment and medication. The qualified staff were tied up with administrative duties, and the support staff spent time with those patients who were under observation and needed personal care such as washing, dressing and feeding.

Patients left to cope with anxieties themselves

Those patients who didn’t need observations and personal care were expected to occupy themselves during the long days with very little to do, and to cope with their anxieties and mental health symptoms themselves. Support from most of the staff was limited, as staff reguarly claimed they were too busy. At times there was a lot of noise on the ward due to patients trying to abscond or presenting with psychotic symptoms. Staff often seemed to use control and restraint procedures and drugs to calm down the most challenging patients. Over the weeks it seemed that the only support some of us were getting was from each other, or from one of the activity groups coordinated by a lovely lady from an organisation called Rainbow Learning.

When I moved areas four years ago, funding for my care at The Retreat was withdrawn, and I had to access local services. Although the Primary Care Trust (PCT) states that its employees should not be treated locally, my new consultant was insistent that the local services in the area in which I work were the only option available to me. Services that were available were:

  • out-patient appointments with my new consultant
  • 72hr crisis support, and
  • admission to the local acute ward.

Focus on containment, not therapy

My new “care-provider” seemed to focus only on containment and not on therapy and treatment. I have endured various admissions to our local acute ward, formally and informally, and while the staff are generally pleasant (although not all of them always engage with me), I have never had any therapy or treatment during my stays. My fluctuating condition, which I think is best described as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (the same thing many war veterans are afflicted with), has therefore tended to deteriorate over recent years, and ultimate recovery has seemed doubtful.

Therapeutic communities and aspecialist programme focused on recovery

During the present admission I reflected on The Retreat Hospital and the type of care they provide. My experiences in the acute ward at my new hospital are hugely different to my experiences at the acute ward at The Retreat. There were many types of group therapy during the day, as well as regular one-to-one care with variously qualified members of staff. As patients, we were encouraged to look after each other too, and the ward was described as a “therapeutic community”. The Retreat also runs a specialist programme –  the Acorn Programme – for women who suffer with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, such as sexual abuse survivors. The programme operates as a therapeutic community, and there is even more group and individual therapy than the acute ward. The main ethos of the programme, in my opinion, is that everyone works together during therapy and supports each other in or out of therapy. The programme is about recovery, and is run by some excellent therapists.

A suggestion

During my current admission I have noticed how we as patients have been supporting each other and sharing our experiences. This type of interaction between us as patients has got me thinking. Surely if patients are lucid, orientated and want to recover from their illness would it not be more cost-effective to run more therapeutic communities in hospitals, to provide therapy groups throughout the day and daily one-to-one therapies, and to focus on recovery before discharge? Surely this would reduce admissions to hospital and the drain on resources in the community, A&E and general medical and surgical wards who provide care for those who have repeatedly self-harmed?

Consultant now looking for in-patient treatment for me

Talking of therapeutic communities, following the MDT meeting on Tuesday when my consultant asked to see me she gave me the news I had so longed for. She discussed my care over the last four years and voiced her concern that my admissions to hospital had increased and that my condition seemed to be getting worse. Out of the blue she began to tell me that she felt that all local services available to me had been exhausted, and she feels I would benefit from in-patient therapy. She told me she had made enquiries at St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton who run a specialised programme for women. However, they only accept patients who are on a section 3.

News got better but four years wasted

The news got even better! She then told me that she had also made enquiries at The Retreat Hospital about the Acorn Programme, and was willing to apply for funding from the PCT for me so I could have The Retreat’s specialised treatment. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me! The sense of relief flowing through my body was amazing. The light at the end of the tunnel had finally appeared. Although I realise the process of gaining funding and waiting for admission will take some time, just the thought of knowing that treatment will eventually be available has made me feel more positive about the future. If one had applied a common-sense approach to my needs, then surely I would have been referred to the Acorn Programme years ago?  The money that has already been spent on my admissions to hospital over the past four years plus on medication, the use of  the local crisis team and admissions to hospital generally, would have amounted to far more than the Acorn Programme would have? I can’t help feeling aggrieved that I have wasted the past four years of my life because it has taken that long for a consultant to realise the treatment I need is specialised and that a therapeutic community is more appropriate for me. I can’t help but worry that there are many others like me who are still only receiving minimal and inadequate services and that recovery is therefore not an option for them just now.

Local treatment inappropriate

In order to strengthen my case to the PCT, my MP is writing to the PCT to support my application. The solicitor I have been using, who specialises in mental health, has written to my consultant informing her that it is inappropriate that I am treated locally in the future. I have had to treat many patients during my duties as a paramedic and then to have to see them again in hospital as a patient is not only embarrassing but I feel it could also compromise my professional position. Thank goodness I work with very supportive colleagues, a fact that helps enromously and means a lot to me!

My consultant granted me home leave Tuesday to Thursday, and requested that I see her on Thursday morning at 9.15 to discuss discharge and the future. In a new post I will let you know how that meeting went and what further hurdles I have to face over the next few months.

Love and best wishes

Angela x

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Angel Bayley on a beach ball as a child.

This is me sitting on a beach ball as a little girl. In some ways I had more control over my life then, before things went wrong, than I do even now, when I feel as if I am being helplessly bounced around between various authorities.

Hi, everyone.

I hope you are all feeling well.

Thank goodness for my named nurse

I was going to talk to you more about my police interview but having read what I posted last night there isn’t much more to say, apart from thank goodness for my named nurse last night, and his understanding when things were difficult during the night.

Awkward and hostile, threat of Section 3

Today has been fairly uneventful, apart from a meeting I had with my consultant at 11.30. She arrived at 11.45 and we went into one of the side rooms. She wanted to talk about my dissociation. She couldn’t get to grips with what happens and was adamant that I need monitoring. I explained that dissociation wouldn’t happen while I was here and, more importantly, while staff remained in the office and away from where the patients area. She was insistent, and I feel sure now it was an excuse for her to stop me from going home on leave. She even discussed my possibly going onto a section 3, even though I wasn’t giving anyone cause for concern. After a very awkward and hostile conversation she agreed I could go home for:

  • 17.00 – 21.00 tonight
  • 10.00 – 18.00 tomorrow (Friday)
  • 10.00 Saturday – 18.00 Sunday
  • Hospital Monday and Tuesday ready for ward round (multi-disciplinary team meeting)

Utter rubbish

I really had to fight for this, and her only defence for not allowing long amounts of leave, despite Andrew being at home tomorrow and all weekend, was that she wanted me monitored for any dissociation. I’m so frustrated as she has to confirm with the police that I do dissociate, even though staff or her don’t witness it. Her theory for a section 3 also is that I am a potential danger to others (the girls), which is utter rubbish.

Patients left to sort out fight themselves

The day has been long with very little to do apart from drink tea. Time seemed to pass slowly as I was counting the minutes down until Andrew came to pick me up. He arrived on the dot and we went to our local for some tea and a drink. Laura was at her friends, so Andrew and I made the most of time alone at the pub and at home. We had a lovely time and 9 p.m. was upon me before I knew it. I arrived back at the ward bang on 9 and the staff had not even noticed I’d gone. Apparently, according to other patients, the staff had all been in the office all night and the patients even had to sort a highly fuelled altercation between two of them themselves.

Worried about losing my job

Tomorrow is a worrying day. I am due to be suspended from work, because it’s policy if you have been arrested for anything. I could even be disciplined for not telling my employers straightaway. My meeting is at my ambulance station with my manager at 13.00. If I am not gagged by the service I will let you all know how I get on tomorrow evening. Tonight is going to be difficult as I’m very worried about my job, which is very dear to me and is also a huge protective factor for me. Working is my best therapy. I have never performed badly on the job. In fact, I am often praised for my work. On the occasions when I’ve felt unwell I have always complied with the Health Professionals Council’s Code of Conduct, and reported sick.

I will speak to you all tomorrow and I hope you have a good day.

Love and best wishes

Angela x