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'Psychological abuse' by mental health workers

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: November 29, 2012

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A VULNERABLE woman suffered psychological abuse at the hands of a mental health worker in Penzance, an investigation has found.

Lauryn Rowe has blamed staff for what she sees as a failure to provide her with a safe and worthwhile care plan while at the town's Richmond House day centre on Tolver Road.

The 23-year-old, who has a borderline personality disorder, complained about her treatment and an investigation was carried out.

"To this date I still feel very frustrated and upset at the way I have been treated whilst under the care of the mental health team," said Miss Rowe, who also suffers with psychosis. "I truly belive that the mental health team have failed completely to provide a safe and worthwhile care plan for me."

In the report shown to The Cornishman, Miss Rowe claimed staff used favouritism to side with another service user during a disagreement at Richmond House in September last year. Miss Rowe said she felt bullied and intimidated by the service user but the investigation says her feelings were not addressed.

The report, carried out by Karen Howard, adult safeguarding lead professional for Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, adds that although Miss Rowe and the other service user resolved their issues, she was asked to take part in a three-way meeting with staff at Richmond – something she did not want.

As a result of this, a member of staff shouted at Miss Rowe.

"It is possible that in an attempt to be assertive and take some control he (the member of staff) shouted and he was unaware of this," reads the report. "It is my view the actions were inappropriate. Shouting at service users is psychological abuse and therefore misconduct."

Following the investigation, it was recommended that staff at Richmond House receive training about bullying and working with people with personality disorders.

It also called for Miss Rowe to receive an apology from the staff member involved, although she claims this has yet to happen. She has since stopped attending the day centre.

Kathy Emery, another former Richmond House service user, gave evidence as part of the investigation.

She believes it is important for anyone who is concerned about their treatment to make a complaint.

"We rely heavily on support systems and if these fail then it is a huge knockback," she said. "People shouldn't be afraid, they must lodge their complaints."

Phil Confue, chief executive of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust agreed that it was unacceptable for a staff member to shout at a service user. He wouldn't go in to detail about discipline of employees but told The Cornishman: "We have taken action with relevant staff. I have met with all the staff involved and talked through the issues so this doesn't happen again."

He added that a consultation was launched last summer in a bid to make day services focus more on an individual's needs.

"People with mental health issues can feel marginalised by society and it is very easy for their voices to be ignored," he said. "We are working to make sure we can hear their voices and improve services."

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  • Alzondo  |  December 07 2012, 6:19PM

    I used to go to Richmond House and I felt the service was second to none. They helped me get back on my feet and yes they did give me some "Hard Sell" treatment but it was what i needed. it saddens me to see them painted in such a negative light because of one individuals comments. Dislike.

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