Wendy talks about community meetings with the patients
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Well, my job was to - there were two elements to it really. One was to assess people for their suitability to be discharged back into the community. So I did home visits with people, took them home and talked with them about how they’re going to manage and what support networks they had. And, more importantly, what they were going to do with their time. And that sort of linked into a second aspect which was to ensure that people had a good understanding, good information about what was possible - what people could be doing when they got back home.
So some days would start with a community meeting for the patients. We would all assemble in the day room (as it was called) and… they’re a nightmare those community meetings. Depending on who was on, staff wise, you would either have loads of patients all sitting round or you’d not have many at all because they send, like, a three-line party whip round and get everybody in there. And then, depending on who was in charge of the ward at the time, there would either be a kind of massive telling off session, like, you know, ‘You patients are eating too much toast’ or something like this, you know? ‘Who’s nicked all the snooker balls?’ Or it would be, you know, sometimes, sometimes it would be a bit more insightful and it would be an attempt to get the patients’ perspective on their experience of the ward. It literally did - I always thought it depended on who was on as to what, you know, how successful it was.
You know, certain members of staff would be - you know, if the patients said something like, ‘Could we have a daily newspaper delivered to the ward?’ some staff would be quite defensive and say, ‘What do you think this is?’ - you know - ‘The Hilton?’ or whatever. And other times there’d be, ‘Well, that sounds like a really good idea. Why don’t we try doing that?’ And then I would think, ‘Well, is it actually going to happen?’ You know, see if it happens. But I used to go because it was an opportunity to publicise what activities were happening, if any. Or to see who was around and to - because the ward changed quite fast and I was sort of very much a daytime worker, nine to five. Part-time worker as well. It was very difficult to get a feel for who was around, who was gone, who’d been discharged because people discharged themselves as well. So, they would just go and, if they’re not sectioned under The Mental Health Act, they’re at liberty to do that. There was always a sense of having to catch people while they were there.
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