“Thank you for helping me and for listening to me”

 Our n-compass advocate was referred to work with Susan by the ward staff at the local hospital. Susan was an 18-year-old female with a diagnosis of autism and borderline personality disorder; she is primarily non-verbal and communicated mostly by writing on a whiteboard. She struggled with self-harming behaviours and was admitted to hospital under section 3 of the Mental Health Act. 

Our advocate attended the ward and made an initial visit to Susan. On arrival, Susan had written out pages and pages of her thoughts and feelings, as well as questions about her treatment and care in hospital. At the outset, the advocate endeavoured to explain to Susan her rights under section the Mental Health Act and also explained the mental health advocacy role. Susan informed the advocate that she did not wish to appeal the section, but she would like support in liaising with ward staff and raising issues with her responsible clinician.

The advocate read through Susan’s notes and helped her condense them down into one sheet with questions for her doctor and bullet points about how she was feeling. Susan asked if the advocate would attend her ward review with her, as she found the environment daunting and difficult to process. The advocate supported Susan throughout the review and ensured Susan received a response to all her questions.

For the next five weeks, the advocate continued to support Susan through her reviews. The advocate would discuss with Susan the points and questions she would like to raise, and this would then be narrowed down into clear, concise points and questions for the doctor. Susan had good insight into different types of medication and how these affected her and wished to discuss her prescription. Susans’ doctor listened to her requests and provided clear explanations on how her medication could be managed.

The advocate supported Susan in requesting leave to visit her supported accommodation, and to trying different types of therapy with psychology, which was agreed.

The advocate provided Susan with easy read format documents and encouraged her to verbalise her requirements. After a few weeks, Susan began to communicate more regularly with the advocate, slowly building her confidence and communication skills.

After five weeks, Susan began attending the reviews on her own, taking her own list of questions and verbalising them where she could. Susan was eventually discharged back to her supported accommodation.

Without advocacy involvement, it is unlikely that Susan would have attended her reviews or felt able to discuss her medication, which may have slowed down her progress. This in turn may have restricted her ability to visit her supported accommodation or seek alternative types of therapy. Ultimately, her discharge may have been significantly delayed.