Friday, 9 September 2011


Please bear with me, I am extremely agitated and so need to get this off my chest.

My niece (A) was told at the end of last week that the funding for her to go to the place that both her social worker and the Priory hospital (where she is staying were agreeing was the most appropriate place for her) was not being given.  I have been trying to get hold of both her social worker and her psychiatrist all week, making several phone calls.  Her social worker was off sick at the beginning of the week, I was told the duty social worker would call me back and they didn't.  The psychiatrist's secretary was calling me back with an appointment and hasn't.

At 5pm yesterday afternoon I had a phone call from her social worker saying that A was discharging herself from the Priory and her file had been placed in the out of ours social workers in tray to find her an emergency placement for last night.

Two weeks ago this child (14 years old) absconded from the Priory, causing a major police search and when found some hours later claimed to have taken an overdose of paracetamol (this is something she has done in the past).  I hope you agree that I had a right to be very concerned about getting this phone call.

After a few minutes of discussion with my husband we decided the next move was to call the Priory.  I did this and was astounded to be told by a psychotherapist (I had asked to speak to the nurse in charge of the ward), that A was allowed to discharge herself as she was a voluntary patient (as opposed to sectioned) even though she was only 14 years of age.  While on the telephone to this person, A, called my husband on his mobile, she could not understand why we were not pleased that she was discharging herself.  I then ended my call to the Priory as they were adamant that there was nothing they could do to keep her there.  I then spoke to A.  She informs me that on the ward round that morning her psychiatrist said to her that she should not be there and a placement should have been found.

This child has a track record of acting on suggestion.  She is also known to not be able to handle embarrassment.  At her last CPA (continuing care/discharge meeting) the psychiatrist reports that her main aim at that moment was to get herself sectioned as she saw mental illness as a badge of honour.

I spoke with A again (after spending time with some wise friends talking and praying) about 7pm and offered to go and sit with her until the out of hours social worker arrived.  As I was not able to promise her that we would not fall out (with someone as emotionally volatile as she has been it would have been pointless making this promise), she was not sure she wanted me there.  I suggested that she think about it and call me back.  She did inform me at this point that the staff on the ward had told social services a 'little white lie' saying that she would not stay at the Priory last night so that had to find her somewhere - when actually she was agreeing to stay there overnight if they didn' find her somewhere.  She informed me this was to ensure that they did something immediately.

I heard nothing more until 10pm last night when A phoned me to tell me that the out of hours had found her somewhere to go and were on their way to collect her, she informed me that her social worker would be coming to see her at that placement the next day (today - Friday).  I requested that she ask the social worker to call me in the morning.

I then had a phone call at 8.15am this morning from the Priory from a nurse saying was I called last night and made aware of what was going on and where A had gone.  We had not been called at all, the only contact that we had was by our call to them straight after the social worker had called.

Now what am I supposed to do??????  The nurse this morning informs me that they tried to get A to stay, explaining to her that a planned discharge would be better.  She disputed that the psychiatrist told A that she shouldn't be there on the ward round as she was present on that round.  Without any communication with us they agreed to hold on to some of A's belongings as she informed them that we would be willing to come and collect that.  They have allowed her to take belongings that she has never been allowed to have charge of without a guardian (even at the Priory), namely expensive musical instruments and a scrap book of her first 13 years of life.

It all seems to speak of incompetence to me, by all the professionals.  She should not have been stuck in the Priory for all this time if she did not need to be there, however she should not be encouraged or in the least not discouraged to go forward with the planned discharge that would bring about the best for her.

Lord of All, please have charge over this situation, guide me and show me where you want me and above all place your angels around A, protect her, comfort her and bring healing to her.   Amen.

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