It's not often that I recommend that a patient is detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, but this week I had cause to do just that. That makes 3 patients detained this year, not bad for a full time Consultant Psychiatrist and less than my colleagues, but I'm still conscious that it's loss of liberty and choice for 3 people at a distressing time in their lives.
This week it was a gentleman who's thoroughly confused but has never been seen by mental health services. He's been living in squalour for months. Social services visited him, he declined help, they left him. This seems frankly criminal, given the state he was in. His fridge didn't work and had only rotten food that was composting down in it. Milk bottles were full of solid milk. Items on the floor were shredded by rodents. Dead mice and mice droppings littered the rooms and stairs. Urine and faeces was soaked in to him, his clothes, his furniture. He was unkempt, unwashed for months, had debris stuck to him and his clothing and smelt of the urine and faeces that he'd been generating and sitting in for months. Broken glass was on his lawn, porch and stairs. He had no heating and we discovered the reason his fridge wasn't working and he was sitting in gloom was because he had no electricity. Now I know I'm just a medic and not a trained Social Worker, but this does seem a curiously suboptimal state of social wellbeing to leave a chap in.
I've no idea if he's toxic through infection or if he's cancer that's metastasised to his brain (he's had cancer in the past that was cut out but he never attended follow up), if he's nutritional deficits (I can't imagine he hasn't, though) or if he's dementing. So he's now on my ward, detained under section 2, a month after social services visited his home then left him in this state.
I don't believe a Social Worker could necessarily have prevented his confusion but they could have organised the social care he needed and deserved.