‘Chronic issues’ with mental-health facilities, warns service user group

JERSEY’S mental-health service has ‘chronic issues’ and there are fears that government promises to improve facilities could result in a ‘talk-and-not-do situation’, a user group has said.

Mental-health service users say that there are a range of problems with the government facilities in St Saviour, including unacceptable noise levels at Clinique Pinel Picture: MATTHEW HOTTON (31922135)
Mental-health service users say that there are a range of problems with the government facilities in St Saviour, including unacceptable noise levels at Clinique Pinel Picture: MATTHEW HOTTON (31922135)

Focus UP, a team of mental-health-service users, highlighted a lack of privacy at Orchard House and disturbing noise levels at Clinique Pinel as some of the current issues at the facilities.

The group’s comments came after Senator Steve Pallett said that the government needed to prioritise finding a solution to an ‘unacceptable’ six-month delay to the completion of a new dedicated acute mental-health facility at Clinique Pinel. Focus UP agreed that this delay was not acceptable.

Earlier this week it was also revealed that 66 out of the 314 posts in the adult-mental-health service are currently vacant – something Senator Pallett said could leave the unit in ‘crisis’ if they could not meet a rise in demand over winter.

The Focus UP group said: ‘Jersey has chronic issues within the mental-health treatment-and-recovery system and we are concerned that this may be another talk-and-not-do situation.’

One of the members of the group added: ‘The current facilities at Orchard House are not fit for purpose. One example is that bedroom doors are missing security cards due to them being lost and not replaced. This means there is either no privacy or safety, as doors are wedged open, or no easy access to one’s private and secure space – unless of course you have been unfortunate enough to be told that the ward is busy and, as a result, you must now share your bedroom with a stranger, and therefore that security is revoked.’

The group added: ‘Other inadequacies include bathroom facilities that are shared and unhygienic; privacy screening on windows that look onto public areas outside are damaged or peeled away; rooms that are uncomfortably hot or cold; and, in addition, staff recruitment and retention continues to be a major dilemma, which is highly concerning.’

Focus UP also raised concerns about the ‘noise level’ on site at Clinique Pinel.

They said: ‘It causes service users and staff increased levels of stress, when the facility should be a place of respite, offering those with severe mental illness an environment conducive to recovery.

‘Focus UP feel that the government should take into account the widely different needs of Islanders who are struggling with mental illness and require assistance – ranging from complex support needs through to those who require respite from activities of daily living; crisis through to recovery. One small facility cannot possibly cater for this variation in needs and this has to be reflected in any service development.’

The charity Focus On Mental Illness said: ‘We recognise and appreciate the hard work and continued efforts of all the staff within our mental-health services and they need facilities fit for purpose and proper support in order to keep them well too. We urge the government to listen to those who use our services, meet with Focus Up, who want to be involved in improving services for those that use them. They are a large group of service users and carers who know, through experience, what our services are really like from the users’ perspective. We can learn a lot from them.’

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