Archive for insider accounts

Ergo ego

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , , on July 4, 2013 by leovineknight

The ‘let’s introduce ourselves’ ritual started, even though the identities of 90% of those present were always well known, and personal information of this sort was invariably irrelevant to the content of the meeting anyway. This ritual was, of course, always suggested by one of the managers, and I suspected strongly that the real reason for ‘introductions’ was that it gave managers the repeated opportunity to announce their messianic job titles to everyone else present. Certainly, their decorous false modesty, well-rehearsed phrases and patronising smiles towards less grand individuals, was enough to fill a sick bucket. I looked across at the senior manager, who was quickly reasserting his smug, unctuous charm, and I wished I was the scarred boss of SPECTRE who would stroke his white cat, press a secret button under his desk, and say:
“Goodbye, Meeester Manager”, releasing the protesting panjandrum through a trapdoor, down a stainless steel tube, and into the jaws of five waiting sharks.
“Shall we introduce ourselves?” the sharks would ask.


Social Integration

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , , on March 18, 2013 by leovineknight

“Buzzz” went the doorbell.
“I’ve just come to pick up Mrs. Brown with the broken leg” said a dripping wet man wearing a Robinson Crusoe outfit and large silver earrings.
“ I’m afraid there’s nobody of that name or affliction here” I replied. “This is a psychiatric unit.”
“Are you sure?” he said (looking closely at my eyebrows).
The dripping wet man then ambled off and started peering through one of our side windows. He was no doubt in search of Mrs. Brown, but instead collected a nose full of diarrhoea from the downstairs toilet and a hearty “bugger off” from one of the patients.
“Can I be of further assistance?” I called rhetorically after him.
“Er…no… no….thanks.”
“Would you like a look around?” I suggested.
“No…no….that’s fine.”
“We’re having the inaugural ‘Friends of Local Psychiatric Rehabilitation’ meeting next week, if you’d like to bring Mrs. Brown?
“Er……….I’m due to give a presentation that evening”.
”A presentation!” I gasped.
“Yes, yes…. I would have loved to come otherwise.”
“The patients have baked a number of interesting cakes.”
“Sorry……..I must go now……urgent appointment.”
“I quite understand” I said.
I really did.
“By the way.”
“Why are you dripping wet and wearing a Robinson Crusoe outfit with large silver earrings?”
“Oh…yes….ha ha…..I wondered whether anybody would notice. In fact, I’ve just been diving off the pier for a hospital charity. It was an absolutely brilliant day – lots of fun and only two deaths through heart failure.”
“Well done. I do admire really mad people like you.”
“Ha ha ha ha” we chuckled.
Until he realised where he was.

Talk the Talk

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , , on March 3, 2013 by leovineknight

After two hours with the Health and Safety team across at the new ward, I’d eventually discovered (via three brainstorming sessions, a seminar, two coffees and a workshop) where the fire doors and extinguishers were located.

“Couldn’t you have just given us the basic information straight off?” I unwisely enquired.

“Er…..well….I suppose so, but it wouldn’t have been so much fun would it?” said a red-faced blue stocking with brown hair and black looks.

“Ha ha ha” we chuckled.

“And what on earth would we have done with the rest of the day?” added her colleague.

“Of course, of course…… I do apologise.”

“Besides” added the trainee Health and Safety Officer “We didn’t know where the fire exits were ourselves until we had the workshop”.


Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , , on February 17, 2013 by leovineknight

A number of residents had crept back to bed after lunch, and I had to brave a battery of objections and excuses before they would reluctantly agree to pay lip service to their care plans, even if these only recommended socialising in the T.V. lounge. Checking inside the wardrobes and beneath the beds for those who were astute enough to play hide and seek, I reflected on how much easier it was to let the residents have their own way. They were extremely persistent in their evasive tactics, and could be both manipulative and aggressive in the pursuit of their objectives. Small wonder, therefore, that the staff often played into their hands by actively colluding with the patients’ hedonistic tendencies. Visits to seaside ice cream parlours and fish and chip restaurants, for example, were usually very popular, even though some of the patients were massively overweight and had diet care plans, while ‘social evenings’ with plentifully flowing wine and lager were equally popular for comparable reasons. Similarly, the daily fixation with television was rarely challenged because staff also liked to spend their time watching football and soap operas, as well as endlessly prattling undercover of repeat films and newscasts. Even when the patients remained square-eyed in front of children’s television, this would still be perceived as a useful distraction from more disruptive activities.
Conversely, when social skills, domestic skills, gardening or personal hygiene interventions were suggested to the residents, these were almost invariably greeted with sabotaging tantrums, increased ‘delusions’ or mute unresponsiveness; so it was not entirely surprising when staff started to take the easy options themselves. This was the point that the unit had reached meltdown; where the day-to-day collusion, the mirror-like reflection of staff-patient lethargy and self-interest, and the obscuring of all things with worthless paper work, had murdered the unit stone dead.

Individualised Care

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , , on January 21, 2013 by leovineknight

The top floor was unexpectedly clean and tidy, and as I strolled about I recalled how staff and residents had tried to ‘personalise’ the bedrooms over the years. Some remained entirely featureless because the patient had been so damaged by their disorder that they had virtually no personal interests, pastimes, opinions or sense of self. In these cases, staff had tried to personalise the room in keeping with the patient’s known employment and family history, but it was still an imputation of the patient’s interests rather than a genuine expression of them, and so it always seemed a little sad to witness it. I visited one such room, where a man who’d lived through World War II was surrounded by faded reproduction posters from the period, Vera Lynn records, and lots of model tanks and aeroplanes. This may indeed have triggered his memory and given him back a sense of personal meaning, but I suppose it was just as likely that he’d rather forget the war (and his non-combatant role in it), or that he’d prefer something more up to date now, or that he was pretty much oblivious to it all.
“See you later, David” I said.
There was no immediate reply, but his Adam’s apple wobbled up and down his long, thin neck like a bingo ball stuck in its chute, his domed head assumed an affected pose to the left, and his wise, mocking eyes observed me from the bed. A rambling mantra of circuitous remarks and well-rehearsed fiddle-faddle then followed, and I found myself edging slowly, involuntarily, towards the door. Painstakingly tangential in everything he said and did; his behaviour was a perfect antidote to the rational world he feared. An artist in his dotage, he lay back and sighed.
Yet for some reason David always reminded me of the old chap I’d seen on T.V. who was so lonely after his wife died, that he regularly engineered the company of local antique dealers who came around to buy the few bits of bric-a-brac he had left in his run down maisonette. He’d even sold his own bed and, because he wanted to preserve his deceased wife’s bed untouched, he was left spending every night propped up in a chair. He was last heard of trying to interest the dealers in his oak floorboards.
It was disturbing to think how many tortuous little worlds existed just below the surface of our glossy bourgeois lifestyles, half-civilised manners and smiley badinage. Worlds which were carefully repressed until teatime, and then explored with virtuous vigour by familiar television faces; cameras zooming on the tears.
Worlds which waited patiently to discover us…….

A Day Off

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , on September 18, 2012 by leovineknight

A shiny black cockroach walked around the brass footrest, and a fat man slumped to the floor in a pool of piss, while his pals knocked their dominos on the rough-grained table, and we savoured our unspoken pact. Two bags of salted peanuts later, we left, and I followed those perfect shapes up the rickety stairs.
Once again.

“Fancy a joint, Steve?” she said later.
“Oh, I thought you were vegetarian?”
“You’re always joking…. Now get rolling.”
In everybody’s life there is usually one glorious idyll. A few weeks, or months, of pure bliss. A time when heaven is glimpsed.

A ride on the beautiful bubble…

Weather Sensitivity Syndrome

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , on September 7, 2012 by leovineknight

Our patients were generally very sensitive to inclement weather and often refused to leave the unit even if it was only lightly raining on a spring morning. There would be a major problem indeed if ‘bad’ weather coincided with a patient’s regular arrangement to visit a relative or the shops, because a compulsion would then be blocked by a phobia. The only solution sometimes was to book a taxi, and smuggle the patient out of the door with an old mackintosh over their head, as though they were a celebrity leaving the High Court. One lady was completely obsessed with the weather, spending long periods ruminating over the forecasts, gazing out of the windows, and getting extremely angry if it “took a turn for the worse”.
Being in England, she was generally apoplectic……

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