How hard do you have to battle to make things right? How often do you have to take people to task before they change their ways? How do you deal with bureaucracy that is unwilling to stray from its own dictates?
Our daughter Jackie (not her real name) was diagnosed with anxiety and depression before her GCSEs; her GP prescribed various drugs and her school tried to force her to attend exams. But that's another story...
In March 2018 she spent three weeks in a psychiatric hospital following severe depression. During two weeks of visits by the Home Treatment Team she was mostly incommunicative in bed, some visitors would not even come in, and six or seven different visitors made it hard to cement a relationship.
Jackie was transferred to the Recovery & Support Team, i.e. 'care in the community'. Throughout 2018 she suffered depression, suicidal thoughts, asked us to kill her, and tried do it herself. It was difficult to contact the Trust, the crisis line was unhelpful, and we received very little information about support for Jackie – or for ourselves as carers.
In April and May 2018, we complained to the Trust about Jackie's time in hospital and her treatment afterwards. Their response arrived in July (after it had been addressed to the wrong house). We challenged it in September, met them the following March (protecting your loved one takes precedence over complaints), and in August 2019 the Trust issued its final response.
Dissatisfied, we submitted our complaint to the PHSO (Ombudsman). We supplied 40 pages of evidence, 60 attachments, a detailed chronology, and a cover letter from our MP, who has followed our case throughout. We described the impact of events on Jackie, and events that affected all of us, increasing the stress on the whole family when Jackie was extremely ill.
Submitting this was exhausting, as was dealing with the Trust's continued incompetence: they failed to call and visit Jackie when promised; they lost letters we delivered by hand; they shredded a subsequent complaint we made; they criticised our home environment without evidence; we had to chase reports they should have supplied; they failed to send reports encrypted; reports contained glaring contradictions; it took nine months to get Jackie a Care Co-ordinator; communications were littered with typos (some potentially serious); I could go on...
The Ombudsman sided with the Trust. No surprise there. Perhaps we provided too much information. He refused to consider events later than March 2019, despite the fact that for two years we have questioned almost everything the Trust did. He also refused to consider the effect on the whole family – mental AND physical.
Having seen what our whole family has been through, we want to improve the support for sufferers of mental health conditions, especially those who don't have people to fight their corner. But how can we achieve this when incompetence and bureaucracy stand in the way of common sense and empathy?
A Moodscope member.