Archive for community care

Changing Sides

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, books, journals and diaries, mental health with tags , on June 2, 2014 by leovineknight

When I did wake up, I was still disorientated, and the room hung around me like a pointillist painting, with dots of colour forming half-familiar images on a dazzling white canvass, forcing my eyes firmly closed again.
“Dad”
The word brought the room vaguely into focus, and now I could make out three people looking down on me, in my white sheets in a white room with white light.
I was back.
Almost.

For a while I felt bewildered and numb, with my memory mercifully dim, selective and distant. I was drained rather than refreshed, and my mind seemed to stall whenever it met the past, and the problems preserved there. Drugs had obviously put out the fireworks, but when I tried to refocus my mind, uncover the causes of my collapse and get things back in perspective, I struggled. It was difficult enough for the therapist to help me revisit past events, but it was impossible for him to change the world which had created those events, and would create them again – if it got the chance. Therapy could only help me ‘adjust’ to things I thought were wrong. In a sense, it could only help me fail.

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Conspicuous Consumption (Cough)

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , on March 5, 2014 by leovineknight

Most of the houses had their downstairs lights on with curtains well drawn back so that casual observers on the street could admire the latest chain store colour schemes and prominent recent acquisitions. It was probably only a matter of time before the retired Major at number 7 would jump to his feet when he heard footsteps outside, and use his Malacca cane to point out treasured objects to interested parties in the garden:
“Pay attention you chaps next to the elm tree. On a recent reconnaissance operation to British Home Stores we secured these highly prized objects (wafting the Malacca cane about the lounge). We have now put the enemy next door at a serious strategic disadvantage….”
To one half of the population, society had become a collection of audiences, and to the other half, a collection of charities.

Ghost Stories

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , on December 10, 2013 by leovineknight

Thinking of the people who’d died at the unit over the years and the ghost stories that occasionally circulated, I heard the fire door on the landing creak open and I waited to see who would come down, but no one did. Blaming the wind, I walked into the kitchen to put the kettle on, and turned around to discover Cecilia standing right in front of me like silent death. The small hairs lifted on the back of my neck and an electric current shot up my spine, reverberating around the limbic systems of my brain like shell shock. Disguising my horror, I privately wondered if these experiences were making me go prematurely grey, or shortening my life in some invisible way.

Navigating with Flip Charts

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , on October 20, 2013 by leovineknight

There was a new notice on the board:
“It is important that all service managers and first line managers involve themselves in the workshop so that the balanced scorecard for the area is developed to meet your needs to manage your service and stimulate greater performance across the Trust.
This will be the first of many workshop sessions, which are expected to scope the needs of the services, and I am sure you will find it invaluable in terms of understanding performance indicators and their relationship with blue star ratings.”
Feeling slightly heady again, I took the bold step of ripping this jargon-riddled nonsense of the wall, and cutting it carefully into shopping lists in front of my astonished colleague.
“Steady on” he said.
“Don’t you occasionally feel like being yourself, and saying what you think?” I said impatiently.
“Yes, but……”
“It’s the ‘but’ that’s always the bloody problem. That’s why we’ve finished up being surrounded by all this unadulterated, mind-numbing bollocks!”
“W-w-well….for God’s sake…..why don’t you just leave Steve, if it’s all so crap?”
“To pay the mortgage with what?”
(silence).

Our Glorious Leaders

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour, social work and social policy with tags , on October 16, 2013 by leovineknight

There was a new notice on the board:
“It is important that all service managers and first line managers involve themselves in the workshop so that the balanced scorecard for the area is developed to meet your needs to manage your service and stimulate greater performance across the Trust.
This will be the first of many workshop sessions, which are expected to scope the needs of the services, and I am sure you will find it invaluable in terms of understanding performance indicators and their relationship with blue star ratings.”
Feeling slightly heady again, I took the bold step of ripping this jargon-riddled nonsense of the wall, and cutting it carefully into shopping lists in front of my astonished colleague.
“Steady on” he said.
“Don’t you occasionally feel like being yourself, and saying what you think?” I said impatiently.
“Yes, but……”
“It’s the ‘but’ that’s always the bloody problem. That’s why we’ve finished up being surrounded by all this unadulterated, mind-numbing bollocks!”
“W-w-well….for God’s sake…..why don’t you just leave Steve, if it’s all so crap?”
“To pay the mortgage with what?”
(silence).

A Halo Drops and a Penny Too.

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, mental health, satire and humour with tags , on September 18, 2013 by leovineknight

It was time for a community meeting again, and I was once more scouring the unit for unwilling participants. I prevailed on six or seven patients to leave their beds, but then noticed them forming a disorderly queue outside the door to the blocked stairs, where David stood feeling around the woodwork and muttering to himself. This was one of his regular obsessive-compulsive rituals, which tended to appear whenever he anticipated a stressful event of some sort, like shopping for fish and chips, or having a bath. I was dangerously short of patience these days, so I dispensed with the professional, politically correct pleasantries and simply bellowed:
“For God’s sake David, will you stop arsing around and get yourself downstairs.”
This always worked much more effectively than a lifetime of psychotherapy or drugs, and he instantly broke out of his reverie and moved downstairs, freeing the bottleneck. But before I had time to congratulate myself on a rare effective intervention, a nearby toilet door creaked open and out tumbled Richard, with a face like thunder.
“Oh…er…. I thought you went home hours ago Richard.”
“Yes….well…..I fell asleep on the toilet if you must know. I’m almost dead on my feet with all this extra work.”
“Yes, indeed. You certainly wouldn’t call Adolf Hitler entertainment” I said, pointing to the Large Print edition of ‘Mein Kampf’ dangling from his left hand.
“Hmmm….that’s besides the point Steven.”
“Oh…I…”
“What is the point” he continued “ is that I overheard you berating David in a grossly unprofessional manner. I believe the exact expression you used was “stop arsing around”?”
“Oh…yes….er…..sorry about that.”
It was a golden rule in psychiatric nursing that staff should keep patients entirely insulated from the rough and tumble of social life, and then wonder why the patients couldn’t cope.
“It was most reprehensible.”
“Yes….er…”
“Abominable in fact.”
“Oh….er…”
“Well, from the first of next month there will be a total ban on all rectal jokes, and the penalties will be severe.”
“Oh….but I didn’t mean……”
“Yes, I would have no option but to issue an official verbal warning which would be entered on your records and retained for a period of six months, after which the matter would be reviewed annually.”
“Oh…..but…..”
“Luckily for you there are still three days to go before the new rules are implemented, so I will make the warning unofficial” he smirked. “But from now on please avoid rectal jokes at all times, no matter how provocative the patients are.”
“Oh…er…yes….thanks, Richard.”
“And remember, we’re still waiting for the inspectors’ final report, so we can’t be too careful….. Especially you, Steven.”
“Er…yes…of course.”
“You’ve got a relative’s complaint hanging over your head for a start, and that little outburst in the inspectors’ meeting won’t have exactly endeared you to senior management.”
“I realise that…”
“They could throw the book at you.”
And the Trust book could only be a heavy one.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry….

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , on August 13, 2013 by leovineknight

It was teatime, and the holy ritual of the temperature probe had already begun. I joined the craning necks to see what the aluminium tins had to offer, and tried to work out how the patients with their backs turned to the monstrous machine could still stare at it with both eyes. My Pavlovian salivation started in earnest as I viewed the fish and chips, but I plodded on gamely and ignored the hunger pangs, skating expertly on the soup when necessary, and rather looking forward to my hard-skinned peanut butter and jam sandwich (saved from lunch time). Mysteriously, there always seemed to be more food deposited on the floor than we ever received in the tins to start with, and today we could have done with a bulldozer to clear a path through it. The usual late arrivals gave a thespian performance about neglect and abandonment, and we were treated to one interesting episode of horizontal vomiting, as a rather determined gentleman filled his mouth beyond its capacity, sneezed, choked and disgorged the blockage like a rocket across the table….

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