Suicidal teenage girl from Whitstable sent to mental health hospital in Manchester

A Kent mum was forced to spend all her savings in order to stay near her 13-year-old girl, who was placed in a mental health hospital 280 miles from home. Here, she tells Marijke Hall of her experiences with the “broken” system…

Ms Oliver, who is in recovery from breast cancer, says had Imogen been given a bed at the Kent and Medway Adolescent Hospital (KMAH) in Staplehurst, run by NEFLT NHS Foundation Trust, the situation would have been much more bearable.

The centre is NEFLT’s first inpatient mental health unit for children and young people in the area.

“Had she been in Kent I could have popped in every day. She could have come home on a Saturday afternoon. We could have slowly integrated her back into home life – an hour here, a day there.”

But instead, Ms Oliver says Imogen was very suddenly discharged from the Manchester facility in November, going from 24/7 round-the-clock care, to an hour a week at home with a care coordinator.

“They sent her home with no discharge plan,” she recalls. “I was basically kicked off a cliff. I had to go to work to pay the bills, but she needed 24/7 care.

“The hospital’s argument was they felt she was becoming institutionalised and picking up bad habits.

“They said they thought she’d be better off in the community.

“So she came home in November and she got straight back into bed again. That last year trying to get her help was a whole waste of time. We had to start again.”

Ms Oliver says she was left with no choice but to resign from her job to care for Imogen, who can’t be left on her own, day or night.

The exhausted mother sleeps on a mattress on Imogen’s bedroom floor so she can keep her safe and comfort her when she suffers terrifying hallucinations.

She says she’s in constant crisis mode and admits she’s on her knees, in desperate need of respite.

When Imogen was discharged, the single mum says it became apparent to everyone she needed more care than an hour a week, and she is now on an enhanced treatment plan.

This involves a mental health nurse making two visits a week. She is also under a psychiatrist who is changing her medication

But Ms Oliver says the delays in her care have meant living in a state of flux while Imogen’s mental state has deteriorated.

“We’ve had to fight for everything,” she says.

“You question your own sanity all the time. No one is listening to you.

“Everything is so short-sighted and CAMHS has no services to offer.”

Ms Oliver believes Imogen, now 14, wants to get better, but is so frightened of the vast journey ahead, she feels it is impossible.

The problem is not just a Kent issue, however, with a shortage of beds across the UK.

But the county’s situation was made worse in 2020, when a hospital in Sevenoaks for children and adolescents needing inpatient mental health services was shut down.

It followed an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission at Cygnet Hospital Godden Green, which found repeated incidents in which young people suffered harm and injury.

There had been 21 en-suite bedrooms for males and females aged from 12 to 18, spread between two wards.

NEFLT NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for providing Kent and Medway’s child and adolescent mental health services.

A spokesman for the trust confirmed there are 11 inpatient beds in Kent. From April 1, this will increase by six, with three general beds and three short-term crisis beds.

At the moment, there are 15 children and young people from Kent placed out of area.

Since the pandemic there has been a significant increase in the need for specialist mental health services for youngsters.

Since October 2021, inpatient mental health beds for children and young people have been commissioned by the Kent and Sussex Provider Collaborative. Kent and Sussex is considered one area in the provider collaborative. Any child placed within the two counties would be considered to be “in area”.

If children are placed outside the area because local units are full, these placements are reviewed regularly with the intention of moving people back to Kent as soon as possible and where appropriate.

A spokesman for the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, commenting on behalf of the collaborative, said: “The detail of any discharge plan is determined by individual providers but in general they will involve the child, their family and professionals, will outline the support on offer and include information about managing any changes in mental health and who to contact in a crisis.”

Full story here

Source: KentOnline, 3rd February 2022

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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