A young Filipino man, with limited English, was held under section in a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Oxford for nearly two years. (A PICU is usually for short periods i.e 2-3 weeks). A member of staff told advocates on the ward that “there was nowhere suitable for him to go”. The advocates spoke to Melchor and asked him if he was happy where he was residing or would he like help to find somewhere else. He said he was not happy and wanted to move. Advocates wrote to his psychiatrist and copied it to the hospital’s senior staff, including the CEO. Within two weeks Melchor was moved to a low secure rehabilitation unit.
Melchor’s story did not finish there. Four years later one of the original advocates received a referral from Melchor’s mother asking seAp to visit him on the rehabilitation unit and we found the situation had developed again in a similar way. Melchor had progressed well and both he and his mother felt he no longer required this level of in-patient care. We supported Melchor at his next series of ward rounds and CPAs (planning meetings) and found that his psychiatrist (RC) had become reluctant to move him on as he said he “did not have sufficient confidence that Melchor was ready to leave long term care”.
An advocate started working intensively with Melchor, initially with his mother’s involvement, and later with him alone. We helped Melchor to appeal to the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) to have his section and detention reviewed. On the day of the MHRT all of his care team met in preparation for the tribunal. Melchor now had a new RC responsible for his care and they decided to approach her with Melchor’s issues before the meeting started. Whilst in the waiting room the advocate, Morden, his mother and his solicitor asked the new RC on what grounds she would be basing her case for further detention. She said she had only just finished reviewing his case and had no intention of keeping him in hospital. As a result the MHRT was cancelled and at a discharge planning meeting two weeks later Melchor was discharged to a community home so he could continue his recovery in a more appropriate environment.
In both instances seAp advocates set the process running by approaching his care team with, and on behalf of, Melchor and this enabled him to have his voice heard.
Melchor is now successfully moving through a recovery programme and although he has occasional support from a seAp advocate he has developed his communication skills and can self advocate when required.