The importance of local crisis care services
Posted Friday 30 November 2012
I decided to write a piece to support Mind’s crisis care campaign because I know all too well the impact that local service closures can have on individuals and families. I know that one strand of the campaign is looking at the lack of choice people face in where they receive treatment, not only between home and hospital, but also between accessing a local service and being sent to one that’s miles away from home.
When plans to close my local ward were announced, I was part of a group campaigning to save the service because I knew how important it had been to me and my family. Through the campaign, we repeatedly pinpointed the importance of family and friends being able to visit those being treated by crisis care teams. Throughout the campaign, I spoke from personal experience. I suffer from bipolar and while I had been fortunate to be able to be on a ward local to me when I needed it, my Dad was not.
Throughout my childhood, and in the years before, when he was unwell, my Dad was admitted to a ward some 35 miles away, which he found very isolating. My Mum, with myself and my younger brother and sister to look after, was only able to travel to the hospital to visit occasionally and our visits as a family were more limited still. One clear memory is of a Christmas when I was 4/5 years old and my Dad was not permitted leave from the ward, meaning we were unable to spend any of Christmas Day together as a family. Arrangements for day/weekend leave were also more difficult and the drive to and from the hospital (over an hour each way) cut into the time he was able to spend at home with us.
I knew too that when friends had been admitted to wards elsewhere, for instance if our local ward did not have a bed free, I have visited much less frequently than I would have liked and would have been able to had they been on the local ward. A pop in after work for a cuppa doesn’t happen and visits only become a real possibility at weekends or, if you do go in the week, the extra travelling and time required soon eats into your energy levels and ability to cope with making the visit. The times when a loved one is in hospital are also hugely stressful to the people who care about them and adding any extra stress at this time is unfair and must be challenged.
I have been glad to learn of Mind’s crisis care campaign which is pulling together the national picture of the current issues concerning acute and crisis care, including the reduction in local availability of inpatient beds. Although I know that good crisis care services are available locally to some people, my experience is that others have to travel too far to be treated, leaving them feeling isolated and slowing down their recovery. From a family or carer point of view, being able to support someone through visits and regular contact is also really important and that’s why I’m supporting Mind’s campaign for excellent crisis care everywhere.
Liz has also written a full piece on her experience of local campaigning to save their crisis care ward.
You told us you couldn't always get help when you desperately needed it. That’s not acceptable. That's way we're campaigning for excellent crisis care for everyone.
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