I can’t write about the specifics of what happened to LB. The inquest, at some point, will make the details public. This may not be until next year. We have no idea when. And yes, that’s pretty hard to deal with. We have to wait for answers, accountability and (hopefully) potential change for other dudes like LB.
I can’t discuss the specifics of his experience, but I can reflect on some more generic issues. The unit underwent a ‘transformation’ in the few weeks before LB died. A decision, somewhere, had been made to touch up the place.
So, the lounge/second seating area became out of bounds because of re-flooring/carpeting. Now I ain’t no NHS/Clinical Commissioning Group/unit manager/Care Quality Commission inspector, or otherwise, but I’d be interested in how this type of ‘upheaval’ is managed (both in advance and in real time) in terms of the organisation of patient activities/outings/availability of staff/transport in a unit of this type. How spaces are (re)organised to avoid disorientation/distress. And glue smells.
But what do I know?
A few days after the re-flooring experience, LB’s room was suddenly stripped of any personal belongings and re-painted. A cream and cherry type combo.
I don’t know where LB went while this happened. Was he told about this in advance? Was this huge change (for him) communicated and managed effectively? Was there a plan to make sure this upheaval was managed for him and the other four patients? I don’t want to labour a point here, but an 18 year old dude (with learning disabilities), who had bewilderingly been plucked from a loving home setting to an alien space without adequate explanation [and everything else that went with that experience which I can’t bear to think about] would find the stripping of that space distressing and confusing.
But surely, I hear you say, with gusto, confidence (and hope), the (more than plentiful) unit staff discussed this potential upheaval with him and his family in advance? We visited pretty much daily and the decorators were arranged some time in advance. A conversation, warning, flag up that there was going to be some upheaval, working together with family to smooth this disruption? A full team of psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, learning disability nurses and support workers in the wings. On it, anticipating it, dealing with it and smoothing it. This kind of detail wouldn’t be overlooked. I mean, what was the point of a specialist treatment and assessment unit otherwise?
Don’t assume anything in the dark and dirty world of learning disability/mental health and social care provision.