Thursday, 20 February 2014

Life on the ward: the patient's voice


This week Rhydian Parry tells us about volunteering with Powys Patients’ Council at Bronllys Hospital in South Powys.

I have been a volunteer with Patients’ Council for about a year and a half. 
I have first-hand experience of what life on the ward is like, having been a patient at Bronllys several times over the past eleven years. I know how tough life can get on the inside and how big an impact seemingly trivial stuff can have. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can try and use my experience of being on that ward from the age of 17 to help others and ensure that the voice of the patients at Bronllys is heard and represented.

We had a very productive meeting last time on the 11 December. It gave us a huge amount of information to take forward and highlighted the importance of some issues that have been consistently coming up. Some are in the process of being dealt with at the appropriate levels such as the lack of activities on the ward. It is an issue we have been working closely with senior and ward managers for a while and are now at a stage where discussions are taking place with Brecon and District Mind (formerly Brecon & District Contact Association - “the Loft”) amongst others to provide structured activity on the ward, as well as some in the community.

The need for a quiet room is another prevalent issue which, sadly, still has not been sorted. We are currently waiting for the walls to be painted; this needs to be done before anything else in the room and is holding the whole project up. I just hope that work can begin soon.

Many people raised issues around the weekly case conferences. It was felt that these were already very intimidating and asking whether patients minded student doctors being there when arriving was too late. People found it very difficult to say 'no' face to face with the students. Having a tick box on the pro forma was suggested by a patient and passed on to the ward manager. She agreed that it was a good idea and will be adding one to the form straight away.

Concerns were also raised around a perceived neglect of patients’ physical health. These were passed on and I was informed that a ward-based doctor was due to start on 23rd December. This will hopefully alleviate the situation somewhat.

It's also important to recognise some of the actions that have been completed over the past year. Good examples of these are having a decent TV, wall mounted and working well making a big difference to the dayroom, and the Mobile Phone Policy. Patients had only very restricted access to their phones and it was a difficult issue to overcome. But, after a lot of hard work, we now have a new Mobile Phone Policy which does allow patients to have access to their phones.

I would also like to thank the staff on Felindre ward at Bronllys. Not only do we hear a lot of good things said at meetings (although people would love more staff!) we are made very welcome when we visit, ensuring we have the ideal room and we also have a healthy working relationship. Without effective co-operation positive action and changes would be very hard to come by.

Many thanks to Rhydian for his insight into the Patients’ Council operating out of Bronllys Hospital in the South of Powys. Patients’ Council aims to give a voice to Powys residents wherever they are offered acute in-patient mental health services - you can find out more, including meeting notes, on our website. And more good news - some of my colleagues are currently working to develop a similar arrangement to give a voice to patients in the North of Powys.

How important do you think it is for patients to have a voice?

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