Friday, 27 June 2014

It is deeply disturbing to see

just how quickly someone can become "institutionalised". It is even more disturbing to see it happen in a place where people are, supposedly, being treated for issues of mental health.
Those of you who have not given up reading this blog will be aware of my friend who has been in hospital for weeks. Yes, we have a nursing home bed for her. It was to have been yesterday and it will now be Monday. She was ready to go. The room is being repainted before she moves in. That will be nice. She was prepared to wait for that.
But I was bothered. She had, at the suggestion of the Social Worker, made a list of the things she wanted to ask about. This is something she should have done when she first made an application to the place in question. She should have been to visit the place when she first moved from interstate. All that is obvious now but, like most of us, she did not want to face reality.
I went to get the list yesterday. I had to go because she is not allowed to use the phone unless a staff member is monitoring the call. Will she be able to make phone calls in the nursing home? Yes, she can have her mobile phone back. She can have a landline if she wishes. Will she be able to write her own cheques? Yes. I will still deal with the bills that come in if she wants me to but she is perfectly capable of handling her day to day financial affairs.
Will she be able to have fruit in her room? I looked at her. Her sister had taken her four apples. They were confiscated under hospital rules. I told her how there was a small shop where you could buy such things to take back to your room. I am not sure she was convinced.
The list went on.
Eventually we came to some things I felt she should be asking about. I will check on those today.
But, in the short space of time my friend has been in hospital, she has gone from independence to dependence. Her self-confidence has dropped to an alarmingly low level. Of course it was going to drop when the need for a permanent oxygen source became reality. My self confidence would drop too. 
What bothers me is the regime she has been under. It seems to encourage dependence. It seems to discourage all decision making.
At the same time nothing seems to happen there apart from a compulsory "exercise" class in the morning. The patients sit staring at the television set. One or two might read a book. One woman had some knitting two days ago. They have taken it away from her. The needles were considered "dangerous". Perhaps they are. I don't know. It seems to me that boredom is also dangerous. 
I really don't know what goes on there. I suppose they know what they are doing. I don't know how mental illness and anxiety is treated there. What I do know is that I am glad my friend is leaving there. I hope she can now start on a journey of at least partial mental recovery. Her anxiety levels are too high.    

1 comment:

Miriam Drori said...

My mother always said she didn't want to go into a home because people in homes quickly become zombies. But that created its own problems. We kept her out until we had no choice.