"Mental Health"

About: Royal Perth Hospital / Adult Mental Health Ward 2K

(as a relative),

A family member was diagnosed recently with Bipolar 1 disorder at a very late stage and age in life, he had to be airlifted out of a remote town in Northern WA to Perth after a scary and confusing few days. Once in hospital it was impossible for family to find out any information on the progress and care of him and they were 1000s km away and had to arrange own travel and accommodation to go down and be there. Every time family rang the staff refused to give information even though he had given consent for immediate family to have access to his files. Nursing staff dealing with them at Royal Perth Hospital were difficult and treated the family terribly with a senior nurse telling the family to not ring and bother the staff let them get on with their jobs. Stop ringing us, I believe were the nurses words.

When they finally got to Perth and met for the family meeting the staff had told the patient the family were coming for a meeting at 2pm but left him locked behind the glass doors seeing his family walk in for a private meeting with staff first and he got agitated and didn't understand why he wasn't included in the family meeting like he'd been told. On discharge to a private facility the hospital gave the patient the information with the family reports to take with him so this added to the distress of the patient seeing what family reported he had done during a psychotic episode. Is it any wonder some people in a psychotic state harm family members when they are given this information and not in a capable state to understand what it is the family are saying. Terrible way the mental health system works in Perth. I felt the hospital didn't want him there they had no beds. He was in emergency for a while and then in a temporary ward and I believe they just wanted to move him on.

Responses

Response from East Metropolitan Health Service

Dear Where to now

Thank you for taking the time to write about what has obviously been a very distressing episode. I apologise unreservedly for the experience described. I would like to address those facts that I can with certainty first and for this I will start with your last points. No patient or family member should ever be left feeling that we do not want them and are just trying to “move them on”.

We do, you are quite correct, try and drive a sense of urgency in trying to ensure patients spend the least amount of time in the emergency department. We believe that ensuring that patients get to an inpatient bed means that they will find themselves in a calmer environment than an emergency department, on a specialist ward with experienced staff allowing them to start their journey of recovery more quickly.

We are looking at how we can better serve patients who live in communities a long way from Perth however you must always feel that you can enquire about loved ones without fear of a sharp and rude response. I will ensure that this message is clearly conveyed to all staff.

Our obligation is obviously always to the patient – first and foremost. We also appreciate that needs of friends, families and loved ones must somehow also be met whilst maintaining confidentiality. This can be very challenging. On this occasion I must apologise because based on the events described we fell short of standard of care that we aspire to. I have asked the team leader to review this complaint and to feedback to the team and monitor changes. I have also asked them to look at the physical space so that we can minimise / eliminate the chance that any other patient / family member faces the same situation.

I do hope that your family member is now on the road to recovery. I once again apologise and would welcome the opportunity to discuss any more confidential concerns personally – I can be contacted through the Royal Perth Hospital Consumer Engagement Unit on the following number: (08) 9224 1637.

Kind regards

Dr Aresh Anwar

Executive Director

Royal Perth Bentley Hospital Group

  • Where to now thinks this response is helpful
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Update posted by Where to now (a relative)

Thankyou for taking the time to respond, I am happy to call you and to provide my name and family details. Regards

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