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"Care of Mental Health Patients"

About: St John of God Midland Hospital / Mental Health Unit

(as the patient),

I was a patient in a mental health unit and it appeared that no one including the staff know the rules. There was zero consistency and medication errors just for myself in a short period of time, which was of great concern.

After arriving there as an involuntary patient a few of the issues experienced and staff I witnessed is as follows:

Medicine errors - charting that I was refusing medication that was received. Injected medication into the wrong area of the body twice and medication was forgotten on one day all together.

Policy / Procedures / Rules - These are cited by staff but no one can ever produce them and these policies and procedures appear to vary from day to day and shift to shift. It should be noted that the worst shift is the night shift.

Abuse - I was verbally abused and threats of physical harm were made by other patients. These included racial slurs, derogatory comments and threats to rub faecal matter in my face to name just a few.

When seeing a patient assaulting a staff member stating - a staff member needs assistance in a particular area - was met with blank looks. Again I had to assert to staff that they had a staff member in danger and they required assistance. Eventually they came to their senses and assisted their colleague, but it appeared that no one was observing the monitors nor responding to verbal requests. It was not unusual to be told that whilst shift change is happening access to areas, medication, personal items or any assistance in general will be rendered until staff finish having their meeting. Often leaving only one or two nurses on the entire ward. In my opinion it was not unusual to find that there were no staff members available to assist any patient either through being ignored, as it seemed their phones were more interesting than the patients or via vanishing all together.

When another patient was screaming and banging on a wall so loud I was awoken I had to coax the staff on night shift out from their glass viewing room to attend to a patient obviously in distress. Not even placing them in seclusion allowed for peace and quiet as being as far away as possible behind closed doors the noise continued.

Intimidation by staff - A staff member tried to use the line, but that person is unwell as seemed to be a justification for their verbal abuse. I believe staff threaten some patients with seclusion and it appeared that others were allowed to verbally abuse and make threats of violence seemingly with no obvious solutions. In my view staff threatened not allowing people to access outside areas if they complained. I have heard staff use bullying tactics such as - if you don't take your medication you will be here forever and ever. 

'Treating Team - in my opinion, this is an absolute joke and it should not be considered a team as to get access to the team a person has to ask repeatedly or try to work out who the people are in the team and nab them if they turn up. Most paperwork is done in the public areas and patients are forced to ask for the same 'team' member for often days on end before success. Whilst acknowledging that staff are busy, being denied access to team members despite asking at each shift change for the same team member it makes you wonder how anyone is supposed to receive treatment. It is not unusual to spend 3 to 5 days waiting to see a member of your own treating team or managers that should be addressing what appear to be systemic issues.

Sadly I was not able to expedite a hearing at the Mental Health Tribunal and have decided to use patientopinion. org. au as the first place to voice my concerns because this type of treatment of one of the most vulnerable members of the community is not acceptable and should not be allowed to continue and these issues should be widely known to ensure patients receive quality care.

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