Frank is SignHealth’s Senior Advocate. He works with deaf people to ensure they are treated fairly and that their voices are heard.
Today I’m supporting Adam, a patient at the Alpha Hospital in Bury. He’s been detained for 16 years under the Mental Health Act. Alpha is a secure hospital where
I support deaf patients on two wards as an Independent Mental Health Advocate. I’m deaf myself and work with deaf clients in British Sign Language.
Today Adam has a special meeting to review his situation called a ‘section review meeting’. Before it starts, Adam and I discuss a report written about him by all the professionals involved in his care.
It’s important that Adam identifies any evidence in the report that may influence the panel’s decision, also he needs to understand what is going to happen at the hearing. He’s unhappy at first, but soon feels more prepared and knows what to expect.
Adam and I go into the hearing and I sit with him as he listens to the professionals giving evidence. Without my help Adam, would have difficulty knowing what is happening. He has an opportunity to challenge the evidence through his solicitor and, with Adam’s approval, I answer questions for him about his treatment.
After the meeting the panel leave to consider their decision. To prepare Adam, I inform him that the outcome looks in favour of him continuing to be detained. When the panel come back they tell Adam that this will, indeed, be the case.
I go with Adam to meet his solicitor who tells him he’s entitled to go to a Tribunal; Adam decides that is what he’d like to do, asking if I will support him again at future meetings.