Time to Change/Time to Talk Day

Time To Change/Time to Talk Day

We all need to help change the stigma and discrimination experienced by people suffering from ‘Mental Health’ problems.  Any one of us could suffer from a mental health issue at any point in our life.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday-log-your-conversation

There needs to be more information, education and open conversations to change the stigma that is attached to mental health issues.   There are people who still hear the words ‘Mental Health’ and immediately think ‘Crazy’ a word that has been attached to it for so long. . I might be taking a risk saying this, but I still hear this even today!

Having worked in the NHS for 28 years (non-clinical roles) starting my career in an Acute Trust, it wasn’t until I started working in a Mental Health Trust in 2004, that I became more aware of the bigger picture of health issues, and the multidisciplinary services they provide to the community.

When I began writing my blog it was with the intention of recording the journey my dad and I had taken since he suffered a heart attack.  That was 10 months ago and now, having followed a number of paths to pursue the right care and support that my dad required, due to a number of health issues identified, I find myself liaising with a service that sits within the ‘Mental Health’ Trust.

‘Later Life and Memory Services’ (LLAMS) 

One of my earlier posts described how I was noticing small memory lapses and episodes of confusion with my dad.  These episodes did not happen every day, and some I just put down to his age (83) I even laughed with him about the things I forget, that he can easily remind me of sometimes. However, the time came to address these episodes as I am aware the earlier a health issue is identified (such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s, the earlier treatment or medication can be offered)

My last post (Referral to the Memory Clinic) described the initial referral to this service, and some of the issues regarding ‘Signposting’ (yes, as you know I have experienced a number of issues with signposting to these vital services, which is why it has become a bit of a bone of contention)

http://www.5boroughspartnership.nhs.uk/base-page.aspx?ID=4852

Memory Clinic Referral:

Dad’s referral to the ‘Memory Clinic’ a service provided by the Mental Health NHS Trust, has resulted in two home assessments, a number of questionnaires, health and wellbeing checks and a referral for a brain scan, prior to an appointment with his assigned Consultant Psychiatrist.

Dad has two pathways to follow this week:

  1. Follow up appointment with Cardiology (Acute NHS Trust – Post heart attack review)
  2. Brain Scan with Radiology (Post referral from Mental Health Services)

Time To Change/Time to Talk Day:

You never know when you will require the services of a Mental Health Trust – It’s time to see an end to the ‘Stigma’ 

My next post will report on both outcomes, and the next step on this journey.

 

 

 

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The Memory Clinic (they required a reminder)

Pardon the pun I couldn’t resist!

A referral to the ‘Memory Clinic’ that was what my dad’s GP recommended after he assessed my dad with a questionnaire, following a discussion about his memory lapses over the last few months.

Unfortunately this referral has taken so long that even I was beginning to think I had imagined it!

After numerous conversations with the GP surgery who suggested I contact the service directly, I found myself being passed from one person to another without getting anywhere. I was eventually directed back to my GP only to be told the referral had not been sent through to the memory clinic, but they would make sure it was sent ASAP.

This whole journey had taken 4 months from the original conversation my dad and I had had with the GP in September to the eventual home assessment appointment which took place in December.

With every step of my dad’s patient journey, we have come across issues with referrals and follow up from one service to another, and this leaves me wondering how some elderly patients cope when they have nobody to follow these things up for them, as my dad has with me!

It is so frustrating knowing these valuable services are out there, but it takes just one step to be out of place to send the whole process out of sync and cause delays for patients.

Having the referral acknowledged and the home assessment finally arranged, I was happy to see dad was now on the pathway. We were informed that dad would have another assessment, and would be assigned a practitioner and a consultant. We were also informed that dad would require blood tests and a CT Scan.

A few days later I received a phone call confirming dad’s next home visit, but to my dismay nobody arrived for the home visit, and after waiting over half an hour I decided to call the memory clinic to find out if dad was on the list for the assessment.

To my surprise, I was told they had no record of this appointment and could not find any information as to who was supposed to be visiting my dad, I gave the details of the call I had received confirming the appointment, but still I could not get any clarification on who was assigned the appointment.

After about half an hour I received a phone call from the practitioner, who was supposed to be visiting my dad, they informed me that although an appointment was booked for my dad, it had not been assigned to the practitioners diary (somebody had forgotten to inform them) I did find this quite funny really, considering it was the memory clinic, and here I was following up yet another appointment. The practitioner apologised and asked if she could still visit my dad within the hour, to which we agreed.

I have to say when she arrived she was very apologetic, and we did see the funny side of this, but again it leaves me wondering how some people with nobody to help them follow these things up cope with these misunderstandings.

I know that if my dad had been on his own waiting for this assessment, he would not have remembered who to contact when they didn’t turn up, and he would have just accepted this.

Needless to say, the assessment went well, we were informed of the next process in his pathway of care, and I am pleased to say everything else has fell into place with the follow up appointment for the CT Scan next week, and an appointment with the consultant next month.

However, we are still waiting for news on the Parkinson’s Therapy Group, this has still not been confirmed considering I was informed that the earlier my dad starts on this programme the better. Almost 5 months into his diagnosis and it’s me who is providing the therapy and assisting my dad with limited information on his condition, and how best to support him.

Hopefully my next post will be able to report that he has started on a programme of therapy!