Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors of a psychiatric hospital, where the purpose is to keep patients at a vulnerable time safe from harm and well cared for with medications, occupational therapy? I am about to give my insight of the hospital from my teenage years and from various stays including the most recent last year.
Firstly to actually even get admitted you are pretty much in for a fight with the mental health services, I have before begged for admission due to being suicidal in 2015 to the Kent crisis home treatment team only to be told ‘you do not meet the criteria’.
I know on a personal level just how difficult it is to get them to listen. I was age 16 when first admitted a long long time ago now. The hospital was actually run so much better back then even though it was still absolutely poor in comparison to the care you would expect to receive, but back then you were allowed to smoke in the smokers lounge ,a right that prisoners in the UK still have in some prisons. Sometimes it is deemed that you need to be sectioned as I was 3 times last year.
I felt there was no dignity at all. I was left sleeping in a corridor on a hard rubber sofa with no pillow or blanket and woken up at 7 am to say they had a bed for me in brighton priory… the experience of being in the priory a private hospital was a different world to the NHS experience.
I am not saying all the staff are as useless as a chocolate teapot you get one or two that take the time out of their day to sit and talk with you about how you are doing but this is very very rare.
When becoming an inpatient at Littlebrook Hospital now you are made to have your bags searched and items listed this is as much for admin purposes as it is to check whether you have anything in your bags that can harm you i.e razors , tweezers , tablets. However on all admissions last year I was able to ‘smuggle in’ items on the banned list by putting them various zip up compartments which were not checked. Very ‘thorough and safe’ indeed…
If they called breakfast and you were not up you simply missed out altogether meaning that you went until lunch time at 12.30 before eating, which when you are on medications is not good at all and can cause adverse effects.
If you requested medication to help calm you you could wait hours or sometimes they would forget altogether. I was psychotic last year and convinced I was being spied on I refused food nor was given supplement drinks for a few weeks on my first admission. I would stay in my room at meal times and nobody would try and encourage me that it was safe to eat.
Putting it bluntly the nurses simply do not care. I would punch the walls of my room a lot they would see me doing so but would leave me to it even to the point my hand was swollen so much I was taken to A&E.
The hospital is supposed to be a place of safety and rehabilitation but this is definitely not the case here.
At most I will call it a holding cell until the psychiatrist deems you fit for discharge.
The food at the hospital is vile and nasty and served without care. Breakfast is fine as it is cereal and you cant go wrong with that , well unless you don’t wake up for it and lets face it at 7am when you have been given night time medications at 10pm…depending on it the nurse in charge actually starts it on time or if there is a delay from someone on the ward having an episode who is really going to be awake for it.
When I was in as a teenager they actually made you get up and go to breakfast lunch and dinner and offer supper too but the care seems to have drastically fallen in 15 years.
The lunch and dinner are to be avoided at all costs. This is an actual dinner from 2016.
I looked for the budget info which was unavailable but it it is widely known that more is spent on prisoners food than a person in hospital. It was like a game of guess the meal. When you are trying to recover mentally you do not want to eat anyway so the food could go a long way in aiding recovery of the patients. You are also watched like a hawk with knives even though they are as blunt as anything.
They count all cutlery (yes even the spoons ) in and out of the trolley.
You would go days and days with nobody being there and they deemed that having newspapers, tea and biscuits on the ward as occupational therapy.
Back when I was 16 you actually had two sessions Monday to Friday that you were encouraged to attend. Now the staff are more then happy for you to lay in bed all day and leave them to sit in the office eating whatever luxury items they had brought in with them and drink endless cups of tea and coffee.
Pretty much the only staff on the ward where those who were on eye sight for the patients needing one to one care, this is supposed mean you are watched 24/7 but even then I know of patients who managed to cut themselves or ligature themselves whilst on one to one watch.
Ways out for those desperate to escape
There are a few ways out of the hospital without discharge some I witnessed and some I did myself while on section last year.
For some they literally break free kicking the fire escape doors , for others they may injure themselves needing treatment in hospital (often with items brought in; some ladies I know of swallowed smuggled in razor blades and cut themselves. I on the other hand hit my hand repeatedly but never ran from hospital as my treatment was actually pretty quick).
For others they bide their time and wait for escorted leave and just run off only coming back if found by the police. No matter what where there is a will there is a way out. The staff don’t care either way they just care about their wages and cups of tea.
They will discharge you when they see fit and no matter what you say will change this. They have their own set agenda when it comes to discharge and pretty much always you do not get the follow up ‘care’ that they state in your discharge plan.
Its like ‘lets see who is the least at risk so we can ship them out and make way for the next vulnerable poor soul. ‘
To sum this up, Littlebrook Hospital is a disgrace to vulnerable and at risk people.
The lack of care, food and medications is astronomical and the place is worse then a prison.
You have to wait days for a review , you cannot smoke in there causing a lot of people to kick off and react as the staff are now not even supposed to give you supervised leave so you can smoke. I know smoking is no ideal but for a huge amount of mentally unwell people it calms them.
I have been hospital free for a year and I can only hope that my mental health does not decline so much again that I have to be admitted
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