When I left hospital I was assured that I would be fine. Social services found me a shared house to live in just a forty minute bus ride away from the city I had began to establish my life in. It was great.
But this, the ‘most suitable placement’, was a placement for people with learning disabilities. Eager to be out of hospital I agreed to move here despite not being of this criteria. I thought it would be okay as many promises were made. Though the clients have very different needs to me they are caring and sweet people whom I felt would be fine to live with. I’ve been here for three months and am becoming increasingly desperate to move on.
Though the people I share a house with are lovely, there are difficulties that accompany living with people with a learning disability when you do not have the same. I’m no saint and many days I have been riddled with guilt about just how much the house’s atmosphere effects me. I’m not in their world, I don’t understand a lot of things they get angry and upset about. I try very hard to be empathetic and see it their way. It’s been eye opening and has lifted me out of the total ignorance I was previously submerged in when it came to learning disabilities. Many people with an LD are fantastic. But living as the only person in the house who has a handle on why it’s not ideal to start the dishwasher just as we need plates for dinner is hard. When I’ve had no sleep and feel low and lonely I miss the conversations I had with flatmates at college. Instead I’m in a loop of “How are you?” “Good. How are you?” “Good.”. Unable to go any further in the conversation without causing confusion or worry. The drama in the house is intense and consistent- nothing is transient. The grudges. The door slamming and tantrums that arise from the most minor of problems. For someone with an anxiety disorder this clearly isn’t the right place for me to live.
It’s not just the other residents. I’ve had two incidents of medication security being extremely lax. The most recent incident of which I found myself with a box of paracetemol. This is something that shouldn’t be happening for the sake of any client but as a person with acute mental health problems this is paticularly dangerous. Despite being here three months and several staff voicing their need for appropriate training no such thing has been put in place. Nor has sighted guide training or visual impairment awareness. Every time a problem raises its ugly head it often comes down to the staff -quite rightly- pleading ignorance. As time goes on things are increasingly my fault. The reason that the staff are not mental health aware is because I have not given appropriate input/provided the training. The medication should have been safe despite me finding the keys in a kitchen drawer because I’m blind and shouldn’t be able to use keys anyway. I should be more saintly about my house mates more frustrating behaviour because ‘they do have learning disabilities’. I don’t. But just as it isn’t their fault they have their disabilities it isn’t my fault I have mine.
As far as I’m aware this is the most appropriate care I have access to at this point in time. ‘Most appropriate’ meaning the best of the not appropriate. Please note: ‘Most appropriate’ is not a synonym of ‘suitable’. I get one hour of support a week from a mental health specialist and, supposedly, seven hours 1:1 support a day to help me get by. But the staff who provide my 1:1 are not trained for my needs like they are for the other clients they work with. Though a handful are fantastic and sensitive people who apply common sense to help me through, there are others who completely misunderstand and judge me and my actions. I, of course, have little to no control over the roulette of staff doing my care. If I request certain staff I am accused of being demanding.
In my county there are no steps between requiring more than one hour of mental health support a week and needing to be in hospital. It is one or the other. This is absolutely bonkers considering the amount it costs the NHS to give someone a bed. I have worked too hard to go back to hospital, but insufficient care is setting me up to fail.
If I lived just a twenty minute journey to the west then I could apply for supported accomodation suitable for my needs. However I am not eligable for it as long as I am stuck in a county that can’t cater for me. I’m angry that I have been put in an inappropriate placement where my needs and safety are often neglected. I could tell story after story but right now I don’t think anyone is hearing me. This is happening to so many people. When will someone hear us?