Geoffrey thinks he’s feeling better. The days blur together in this place, marked only by the timetable pasted on the noticeboard in the dining area. It’s not even a proper room - not a dining room. The nurses walk up and down or hang about watching us. The tables and chairs are bolted to the floor so you can’t pick them up and throw them when things get too much to handle.
Geoffrey doesn’t spend so much time in his room any more. They’ve taken him off fifteen minute obs. His key worker sat down with him - said it was a “one-to-one” and got him to sign a contract. He was meant to take part in more activities - do out on structured leave - that’s what they called it - but this only meant that he got to walk down the road to the local shop and back. So far he was only allowed out with an escort but that only happened if there were enough staff on duty to be spared to go with him. Still, if he did everything they asked him to do and smiled a bit more, he knew they’d soon let him out on his own.
The worst bit of the day was the meetings in the morning. All the patients and staff had to sit in the room and talk about stuff. Like “issues” that had come up and what activities were on offer that day, who wanted to go out and where. It was always the same though - the ones with the loudest voices talked a lot, shouting down the others. The nurses didn’t seem to notice that some patients never said a word. Sometimes there’d be angry shouting with people walking out and slamming the door.
Geoffrey hated in when new people came in. They were nearly always trouble - shouting and pacing day and night - sometimes even fighting with the nurses and other patients. Then they were “escorted” to the secure wing for a few hours. It was frightening. Geoffrey tried to stay in his room whenever he could.
He wasn’t in his room this particular evening though. His key worker had told him he needed to integrate more - so he forced himself to sit in the dining room and read a paper. It was near enough to the ward office for him to be seen and that was good on two fronts - he felt safer there and he knew the staff would notice him and write in their reports that he was complying with his care plan. The care plan he’d signed even though he didn’t really understand what it was all about or why.
Geoffrey was struggling to concentrate on the paper. Normally he loved to do the word puzzles but since coming to this place he’d found it almost impossible to get any of the words right. This evening it was even more difficult than usual - he couldn’t help overhearing what was going on in the ward office. The nurse was on the phone and he kept hearing snatches of the one-sided conversation.
‘No, we can’t admit him again.’
‘Why? Because the last time he was in here he repeatedly failed the drug tests.’
‘I’m sorry, this is not a detox unit.’
‘It’s not only that - there was the violence.’
‘That’s as may be, but we do have the right to refuse admission....’
‘I know - no - very well - just overnight then.’
Geoffrey had a slight feeling of anxiety in the pit of his stomach as he wondered about the potential new admission. He was thinking about retiring back into his room when the nurse appeared at the office door, sighed and catching Geoffrey watching him, smiled brightly.
‘Hello, Geoffrey, it’s good to see you out of your room at last.’ He made his way across to the dining area and stood beside Geoffrey. ‘How are you this evening?’
‘Alright.’ Geoffrey replied. ‘Is there going to be a new admission this evening?’
‘You been listening?’ the nurse asked.
‘I couldn’t help over-hearing. Who is it?’
‘Just another young man. It’s nothing for you to be concerned about,’ he said.
‘Is he a drug addict?’ Geoffrey asked.
‘It’s not appropriate for me to divulge anything about other patients.’
‘Only asking,’ Geoffrey said.
‘Well, you wouldn’t like me talking about you to other patients, would you?’
‘I suppose not, but I heard you say that he was violent. Surely I have the right to know whether I’m safe or not.’
‘There is nothing to worry about,’ The nurse tried to reassure Geoffrey. By this time a couple of other patients had begun to mill about the dining area, waiting for the evening medication to be given out. Geoffrey queued for his medication and took this opportunity to slip away to his room before the nurse had finished with the other patients.