Please welcome the inaugural post from our second new editor, Dr Nic Hendey
Are our mental, physical, and social care services really operating in tandem, integrated, and equal? My experience is not.
Having just been discharged from a stay on a psychiatric ward I thought that a blog about some of my experiences would be of interest. I am both an academic and a mental health service user. I have mobility problems as well as being registered blind and arrived on the ward with my guide dog Beels. My dog is unique in being dually qualified, as he is a dog for the disabled too, and helps me with tasks around the house. Beels also supports me when I walk.
The day after admission I was horrified and devastated when Beels was removed as staff did not think that the ward was a suitable environment for him. I was astonished as Beels has accompanied me into other hospitals in London and stayed on surgical wards. I have not seen Beels for six weeks now, a situation which is detrimental to both of us given that we work as a team and my reliance on him. He is currently with his breeder in Gloucestershire.
It seems as if my other problems, that are not directly mental health related, have been overlooked. I am now back at home without my assistance dog and no care package in place. This is a serious omission given my mobility problems and degree of visual impairment. Normally I have personal assistants helping me but this has been suspended due to my recent hospitalisation.
Patients with multiple disabilities do present challenges that require fresh thinking and it is essential that staff are able to meet the needs of such patients. The lesson to be learned here is that you cannot look at psychiatric conditions in isolation from any other disabilities that a patient may have, and that this is intrinsic to a holistic approach to patient care and a realistic recovery model.