I’m very open about the fact that i feel, first and foremost like a service user and that is a big part of my identity. So just to warn you this blog is very much from that perspective.
Yesterday i had a pretty odd day that contained a couple of notable incidents i thought i would write about.
Firstly: good thing
After admittedly quite a long time spent:
(1) putting off going to see a doctor and
(2) not being able to get an appointment due to the painfully bad booking system at my local GP, i went.
As usual, regardless of what i logically “know” is true about my mental health and its effects and in spite of the fact i have a degree in Psychology and work in this field, i doubted myself. And as usual i tried to talk myself out of going.
I’m glad i did.
The doctor (a trainee) was wonderful. I often find that newly qualified doctors come across as the most compassionate and engaged and this was for me a very positive experience. Go doctor!
I have certainly had a lot of less than positive experiences with GPs, some of those experiences have been in the very same surgery and have almost resulting in my leaving the practice.
Which shows how much of an effect having a good doctor and a good patient experience can have.
So that was good although i was advised to take the rest of the day off work and go and get some blood tests at the local hospital.
Secondly: good thing
My blood tests were done at the walk in at the local hospital and went well. I’m not going to say it was good, it was what it was but i really appreciated the nurse not even batting an eyelid at the scars of my arms.
Thank you for not staring, touching or saying anything. A lot better than i’ve had in the past when i have had health professionals make some of the most inappropriate comments about my arms in particular.
Thirdly: not so good thing
After my blood tests i went to get a coffee in the hospital cafe to perk myself up a bit before the cold journey home.
Shortly after sitting down and taking my first sips of coffee i realised that the people sat at the table in front of me were a mental health team.
How did i know this? Because they were having a team meeting right there in the cafe and talking about their cases.
Hang on. Is that an alarm bell ringing?
As i sat there drinking my coffee they discussed individual cases although never mentioning any names.
Interestingly they also talking about telephone counselling which one of them was apparently about to conduct a session of. The practitioner in question said very openly that she didn’t really “get it” and they went on to talk about it further saying that the best thing would be that you could smoke and (jokingly) drink during a session etcetera.
When i mentioned this on Twitter a friend of mine and fellow VIK said “sadly I’ve heard this before, and also a comment on how doing online therapy means you can check Facebook at the same time”
Yep definitely alarm bells at this point.
Patient Advice and Liason Service
Luckily the local PALS (Patient Advice and Liason Services) are based on site and it seemed like a good place to raise my concerns.
Having had little personal experience of PALS previous to this i didn’t know what to expect but i found them kind, courteous and very helpful.
They seemed rather unimpressed at the actions of the team and said that they will follow it up and raise my concerns.
It was really nice to be taken seriously and listened to and to be able to just walk in and raise a concern instead of more traditional methods of making a complaint which can be long, ardous and offputting.
It did make me think too about confidentiality and what we should and shouldn’t say as professionals. And gallows humour too. I know that i frequently use very dark humour to help me cope with situations and i understand that clinicians need this too. I’m not saying that they should not have those thoughts or feelings but that conversations of a sensitive nature should not be held in a public arena because you never know who is listening.
Yes i was more sensitive to their conversation because i knew what they were talking about but when you have a discussion like that in public any one could hear. It could be me, a service user who knows about rights and rules..or it could have been a family member or friend of one of those patients.
So yes i definitely feel that i’ve seen some very strong examples of both good practice and bad. A very interesting day all in all.