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LETTER: Shocked by treatment at Victoria Psychiatric Emergency Services

When I read the article Former patients of Victoria Psychiatric Emergency Services call for change it brought back many sad memories. My daughter-in-law was in a car accident eight years ago and sustained a head injury.

Seeing how she was suffering, and being an RN in Victoria, I decided to be an advocate for her as she so obviously needed help. She had changed from being a very kind, caring and active individual, to a depressed, anxious and sad person. I encouraged her to go the psychiatric department at the Royal Jubilee Hospital – emergency services. She stayed five days. She felt judged, shamed, belittled and emotionally abused.

I sat through a meeting with her doctor and nurse – I was there to be supportive, to listen, and to comfort her. But believe me, they did not want her to have an advocate, especially someone who knows the ins and outs of our medical system. The next meeting she was alone with the staff. They refused to let her have her glasses so that she could see, and refused to give her any lunch after the meeting at 1 p.m. – just told her the next meal would be at 5 p.m.

Her husband (my son) was invited to her discharge planning meeting and in a quiet refined voice he told them how he felt about their so called “treatment.” There was no respect, no dignity for her. He told them they should be ashamed and gave them time to explain. But at a table with five staff, not one of them spoke. They looked at the paperwork in front of them, or at the floor.

When I heard this I felt ashamed to be part of the medical profession. I was shocked and saddened for the lack of caring for another human being. Needless to say, my daughter-in-law will never return to that psychiatric department. She is moving forward with counselling and family support. Fingers crossed. There aren’t many options. But the lack of compassion at the Royal Jubilee Hospital here in Victoria, was staggering to say the least.

Melanie Sowden

Sidney

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