Archive for blog psychiatric nursing

Haze

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , , on February 4, 2014 by leovineknight

I passed the duplex (or should it be duplo) apartment blocks, and the space that was once occupied by a fine Regency hotel, and I wondered why our town had to be like everybody else’s. I felt some change jingling in my pocket, looked at the cheap breeze-blocks stacked in a corner, and intuited the answer. An original sandstone wall still stood defiantly around the cleared area, and I felt pleased that this tiny piece of my childhood had escaped the reclamation yard, even though it now doubled as a white board for dullards’ ‘tags’.
Around the corner a whole avenue of Georgian buildings had remained intact, but they had been inhabited by D.S.S. colonists and now the option was clear; flaking paint, rotting timber, the odd boarded window, and groups of unemployable wastrels wandering back from the off licence with gallons of cider, baseball caps, and guttural voices. An old lady was outside clearing the slush and litter off her doorstep, while two fine youths with lager cans sat opposite in the concrete portico of the community centre, aiming obscenities at her. The icy pavements had apparently been polished by a proud council.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , on November 18, 2013 by leovineknight

Yes, in one hour the night staff would be here, and for the sake of my sanity I refused to consider the possibility of another late sick call. Cecilia had begun to kick the walls and punch the doors, but it was all a bit half hearted and within twenty minutes she had settled for her chain-smoking norm in the tiled lounge, happily stubbing out her fag ends on the latest vinyl chair arms. I laboured through the care plan write-ups and tried to put a slightly different angle on the patients’ repetitious behaviour by using a few different synonyms, the odd novel phrase, a daring piece of interpretation; anything to break the soul-destroying dirge of recording the same non-events every working day. I had Cecilia’s short-lived agitation to report, of course, and I prepared myself for the forest of ‘very concerned’ faces which would greet the news at hand over, even though she lost her temper virtually every evening now, and it had become just another normal abnormality. Then there was the cash to count, and we would prepare one or two of the remaining patients for bed, as a traditional favour to the incoming staff.
Although some of the patients went to bed ridiculously early, some didn’t want to go at all, so we now had the rather difficult job of cajoling one lady to leave her chair and don her night-dress. She played the game like a chess grand master; initially ignoring our requests, then postponing her decision, humouring us with praise, arguing that beds were unnecessary, and finally screaming abuse. Our nostrils told us that she was badly in need of a wash and change anyway, and we knew that her arthritis would worsen if she remained sat in the cold all night, so we hovered about riding the storm. Eventually, the irritation of our continuing presence outweighed the annoyance of getting changed, and she gradually edged towards her bedroom at the sort of pace which would have pleased a Victorian photographer.
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Trussed or Trust?

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags on October 7, 2013 by leovineknight

We took our drinks (and the three soft half biscuits we found at the bottom of a deluxe Christmas selection tin) back to the office, where I flicked through the latest Trust magazine. The Trust seemed to spend more on publishing than Fleet Street, producing a host of slick magazines and bulletins with constantly changing logos and endless self-congratulatory stories. Invariably, the Trust director was pictured on the front cover, sporting his latest ‘power’ haircut and surrounded by grinning lackeys basking in reflected glory. Page three summarised the findings of our fifth staff survey this year, and I was pleased to see that 80% of the staff involved were “satisfied” with Trust performance. I had seen the full report, and I suppose it would have been churlish to point out that only 35% of staff had actually returned their questionnaires to the survey team, so perhaps the headline figure was a little misleading……

A Meeting of Minds

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour, social work and social policy with tags , on September 23, 2013 by leovineknight

Using my best Chairman of the Board voice, I thanked those present for attending the meeting, read out the apologies, and quoted the last minutes on record (from five months earlier). The patients were so impressed they looked as though they were expecting a hanging, but within minutes the familiar double-glazed looks were beginning to form, and by the time I delivered my first tentative question there was nothing but a resounding silence. Many of them were adopting classic ‘defensive’ positions, turning right round in their chairs to face the back, rolling into foetal positions, or simply looking fixedly at their feet. To the left of me there was a rustling sound, and I knew that one of the more mischievous ladies had hidden behind a settee, while to the right Primrose had already fallen sound asleep. But I pressed on regardless, and using a series of one to one questions I managed to coax some of the more garrulous patients into life.
Once galvanised, the talkative patients were then almost unstoppable, using the meeting to broadcast their latest environmental requirements, such as a wide screen plasma T.V. set for the lounge, a continental holiday and bigger bedrooms. Double-glazing had always been a popular request, but now that we had spent £20,000 on having new sealed unit glazing units fitted, the patients were gradually shifting their interest to triple-glazing. They were a door-to-door salesman’s dream, and often became so expansive about their material aspirations that staff had to reverse gear and look for ways to curtail their monologues…..

Plodding

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , , on September 3, 2013 by leovineknight

Many of the patients were in the habit of going to bed directly after tea, so we decided to invite them downstairs again for one of our rare community meetings. In times gone by, when the unit had followed a ‘therapeutic community’ model, we used to hold these meetings every evening to sort out the domestic jobs allocation, receive feedback on the day’s events, discuss any complaints and ideas that people might have, and give credit where it was due. These, of course, had slowly fizzled out as the patients became older, the staff got tired of doing it, and the unit reverted to form as a continuing care hospital ward again.
Occasionally, though, the community meeting idea was reintroduced by either industrious students or ‘new broom’ managers, who would both employ short-lived democratic outlooks, and then move on. Indeed, just as the staff were becoming more ‘unwell’ than the residents (e.g. judging by psychotherapy appointments), so was the turnover of nurses becoming much greater than the throughput of patients. This sometimes led to an illusion of progress on the unit, because new staff would launch ‘fresh initiatives’ which were actually recycled old and failed ideas, while the overall decline from community care unit to hospital ward was too slow for the rapidly changing staff to notice. Therefore we had the paradox of patients becoming less and less able, at the same time as temporary managers deluded themselves that things were getting better and better. A radio in one of the patient’s rooms, announced:
“Buses ground to a halt yesterday as drivers walked out over a colleague who was dismissed for winning a martial arts competition while off work sick.”
“Oh well, there’s always a job for him here” I thought. “I hope he’s got plenty of storage space for the manager’s ‘get well soon’ chocolates and flowers.”

Good Grief Biffo!

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , on August 19, 2013 by leovineknight

I ate my hard-skinned peanut butter and jam sandwich, and was advised by my colleague that several unidentified patients had again raided the fridge, carrying off the vegetarian contents of his personal plastic container. Retreating to the ‘quiet’ lounge, I then switched on the T.V. and discovered from the news that some of the latest bilingual road signs in Wales directed people to turn left in Welsh, and to turn right in English. An advert for the internet then showed lots of men running around in T-shirts with a ‘www.’ logo on their backs, claiming that ‘the world was now full of w’s’.
It was indeed.
I counted seven consecutive adverts, lost patience and swapped channels, only to find that the same adverts were being rerun on the alternative channel. Still, at least they weren’t in black and white like most of the bits in between the adverts, and there was always the local evening paper. I picked it up and five colourful leaflets fell on the floor, blending nicely with the gaudy washable carpet tiles and the blackened chewing gum blobs which extended across the room like rows of flattened Pontefract Cakes. As usual, one leaflet tried to interest me in conservatories that had no prices, the next purveyed some bizarre gadgets that wouldn’t have been out of place in a police museum, and another told me how I could make lots of money without risk if only I would sent £15 for a starter pack. The forth invited me to improve my memory using a special secret technique known only to the thousands of people who had already benefited from it, and asked me to visit the web site http://www.can’tremember?co.uk. Luckily, the address didn’t include one of those signs which people now refer to as a ‘forward slash’, because this always sent me scuttling to the nearest urinal with subliminal zeal.

Heresy

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , , on August 1, 2013 by leovineknight

“Are there any other comments?” said one of the inspectors, looking directly at me.
I turned instinctively away, but found myself surrounded by gimlet eyes, and an atmosphere of curious expectation. For a moment, I was mesmerised by this concert of stares and glares, and then like a cornered rat making a last desperate spitting bid for freedom, I blurted out:
“Frankly, I’m surprised we’ve got off so lightly…. In my opinion, the patients are steadily deteriorating because they’re needlessly hospitalised, and they don’t have any meaningful way of spending their time. They’ve lost all self-respect because they can’t contribute to anything, and they’re left with nothing to do but spend their benefits, or sleep on sofas. The unit is bed-blocked because the patients are incapable of moving on within the present system, and insufficient money is available to ‘warehouse’ them outside the hospital. Management is paralysed by fear of confrontation with individuals, unions and the public, and we’re being buried alive in mindless bureaucracy, just so that we can demonstrate paper progress to auditors and ourselves. Many of our nurses have joined the circus by spending a large proportion of their time at home on fully paid sick leave, correctly anticipating that management will send them boxes of chocolates for doing so.
“Hmmm…Hmmmm….Thank you very much for your views…..” interceded Richard.
“And” I continued “In my opinion, this is nothing short of a scandalous and disgraceful waste of public funds.”
A stunned silence followed my reckless outburst, and in the interim I cast a careless glance around the table, waiting for my nemesis. Like a group of assassins at a Mafia wedding, they eyed their target, toyed with their guns, and twitched their lips; the apoplectic manager on the verge of a stroke, the chairman’s chilling cold weasel look, the black coated ranks of inspectors with their ice hockey masks, turning me over like a beetle on a pin……..

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