Tag Archives: adoption

The Potato Group News

 

 

When our children were placed with us aged 3 (twins) and 18 months, we had a lot of information about their history of severe neglect due to parents drug and alcohol issues. At that time there was a big focus on attachment and little was known about the impact that such trauma can have on brain development. So, we were told that because they had remained with their older sister (not being adopted) in foster care and had made good attachments there shouldn’t be any problems. Furthermore, there was no evidence of any problems – they were just “naughty” but the FC had provided good care and there were now “no problems”.

Indeed – there seemed not to be anything to be concerned about. Apart from silent crying, over compliance and “hyperactivity”, that is. In any case, after placement they settled down and eventually presented as typical children. And our experience was, actually, that they were “typical” children – if sometimes a little more “hyper” than others.
This all changed for us when our twin girls began to present with mental health problems which eventually resulted in both of them being admitted to inpatient units aged 14.
Now, we all know that the NHS is marvellous! If you have a serious, life-threatening problem, you will almost certainly get the treatment you need at the appropriate time and usually fairly close to home. Not so, if you have a mental health condition. CAMHS is “not fit for purpose” in a lot of areas. The shortage of suitable NHS mental health beds has been highlighted by the media for quite a while now. Lots of professionals make the right “noises” about the issues, but I am not sure how many of them realise the impact that the bed shortage has on both the patient and their families.
Eloise, was placed in an adolescent mental health unit over an hour away from home. She couldn’t go to a local, open, unit as her sister was there, so she was sent to a secure unit two counties away. This was a totally inappropriate admission: she was suffering with anxiety and depression and did not need to be on a secure unit.
The impact of the mental health bed crisis!

Restricted visiting hours meant that, because we had to use a major, usually congested, motorway to get there, we couldn’t see her in the week – meaning she only had visitors at the weekend. She has a younger brother who was too young to be left alone all day so he had to come and visit with us. Meaning he missed out on typical weekend activities with his friends. On occasions, we would turn up to visit her and she would be too unwell to see us for more than 15 minutes. Or her visit would have been cancelled and staff not bothered to call us. When she was allowed local leave from the ward, we had to try and find activities to do (usually restaurants) to “entertain” her.
But, a more serious consequence of this placement was the impact on her wellbeing. It is acknowledged by those working in mental health that patients will copy the behaviours of others they are placed with. Unsurprisingly, once in this unit her mental health deteriorated rapidly with an increase in the severity and frequency of her self-harming and she eventually became violent and was diagnosed with emerging personality disorder. Clinicians decided that she had to be kept in seclusion for an extended period. She was nursed in a room without even a bed – just a mattress on the floor. With nothing to do all day. Supervised constantly by two staff. A decision was made that she needed a bed in a forensic unit. BUT there were no beds available. She had to wait 6 weeks.

She was eventually offered a bed on a forensic unit 2 hours away from home. This hospital was a good placement for her. However, our Saturdays were now all about driving around the country doing visits. It is not just the inconvenience (or the cost) to the family that is the issue – being placed at such a distance has an impact on her treatment and recovery. The hospital felt she would benefit from family therapy – very difficult to do when both parents work and we have to travel so far for each session. As they recover, patients begin to have leave home to spend time with their family and friends. Hospitals find it difficult to facilitate these visits when they involve a four hour round trip (first visits are usually with staff If a home visit takes place on a weekday (and these are supposed to build up to weekly visits) then we, her parents, needed to take time off work and her siblings missed her because they were at school. However, weekend home leave is very problematic as there are fewer staff on shift. Discharge to home involves a gradual transition over time and this is very hard to do with great distances.

Another impact was that it was difficult for us to build a relationship with staff working with her as we couldn’t attend the weekly ward rounds. So, it became hard to ensure she was being well cared for. Her “home” clinical team were often unable to attend meetings about her as it meant being out of the office the whole day. So she quickly got forgotten about.
When she was well enough to be “stepped down” to a less secure placement it became apparent that she “fell between services”. She wasn’t ready to come home as she had become institutionalised. A low secure ward was felt to be inappropriate because it was likely to be too “unsettled” and might unduly influence her – leading to a remission. However, open, acute, units wouldn’t take her as it was considered to be too big a step down. She was caught between provisions: there was literally no hospital suitable for her.
So she had to be moved to a community placement which didn’t work out. And she ended up in a serious of adolescent psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICU) several hours away (the furthest was a distance of 4 hours)! However, she was approaching 18 and Adult services did not support out of
county placements. Yippee! She’ll be moved closer to home, we thought. But it was not to be. Once again she “fell between services”. PICUs said she did not need their services, she wasn’t unwell enough but the acute team said she was too risky to have on their wards! She is currently 1 1⁄2 away on a PICU waiting for a treatment ward to admit her.

What has become clear to us as we struggle to get the right care for our daughter is that the shortage of suitable mental health beds is very real. There needs to be more emphasis placed on getting patients close to home – to reduce cost/impact on the family, to aid the patient’s recovery and to reduce costs for the Trusts treating them. We have had to fight to get her moved from wards where she was badly treated or inappropriately placed. We have been able to do this because we are not in awe of professionals (having dealt with them for so long as a result of adoption) and because we are articulate and informed. It makes us wonder how many people with mental health problems who do not have a voice are left in unsuitable placements.

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 203

Welcome to #WASO week 203. This week we have an optional theme of ‘HOLIDAYS‘.
What is your experience of holidays with your family? We know that for some people holidays and time away from school can calm things down and for others it is a difficult time with changes of routine etc.
Please link in your blogs and we will read and share.



Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 194

Hello, hello, hello – welcome to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out!

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Welcome back to another week of #WASO. How has this last week been? Have you written about it? Because if you have, then we want to read about it. Here’s an idea…link up below and then others who are interested in adoption will see it and might read it too? Sounds simple but it works!

We’d love for you to comment and share those you read too, and let them know you found them via #WASO. Here’s the linky:


Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 191

Oooohhhh – it’s Hallowe’en #WASO time!

191Welcome back to another week of #WASO, the original adoption based bloggers link-up. As Hallowe’en is coming up, we’ve gone a bit themed, but that doesn’t mean your blog post has to be, although by all means you can use ‘Hallowe’en’ as a theme if you want a bit of inspiration.

Add your blog post below, share some of the others, comment if you can, because it’s always nice to see what people have to say, and say hi on Twitter to some of the bloggers if you fancy it. They’re a friendly group who wouldn’t say boo to a ghost!

Anyway, here’s the linky, it’ll close late on 30th October.


Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 188

Friday already? Well that means it’s #WASO time!week-188

Come along and add your posts this week. Maybe encourage a blogger friend or two to join in? And if you’re more of a reader than a writer all you have to do is read, share, comment and repeat. It really is that simple.

So here’s the linky, jump in and add your blog link:


Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 186

It’s #WASO time again!

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Welcome to another week of #WASO. Our apologies for not returning back to normal programming just yet. We’re still chatting and planning and working out where The Adoption Social will go from here.

But, we’re definitely still running the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, so come along, get those posts all polished and shiny and add them to the linky. (That’s the bit below where you can paste your blog post’s URL.  And don’t forget to share, Share, SHARE!



Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 182

Welcome back to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out!

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As always on a Friday, it’s time to get your blogs linked up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out and have a read of some other amazing adoption related blogs. There’s no theme this week, so just come along and link your latest, best, worst or favourite blog post below. Share your favourites and comment on those you read.

 



Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 181

Blog posts at the ready, it’s time for the Weekly Adoption Shout Out!

WASO181

Hello and welcome back to another week of #WASO. Have your kids gone back to school yet? Or still a few more weeks to go? How have your holidays been? Have you gone away? We want to read all your news in your blog posts this week!

The theme this week is ‘Sun or Storm’. It’s not obligatory but there in case you need a little inspiration.

Anyway, without any further ado, here’s the linky: