Securing Patients' Property and Welfare of Pets

As you will have observed, many people with mental health challenges are homeless. I felt I should detail my finances at the time my flat was sold resulting in me losing my place on the housing ladder. This is to illustrate why, entirely unnecessarily, I also do not have my own home. Then I will describe what regulatory procedures are in place, or should be in place, for mental health professionals to prevent what happened to me from happening again.

I bought the flat in 1990 for £61,000. In 1998 the mortgage was about £450/month. My take home pay was around £1100/month. My tenant was also paying me £1100/month. I had been missing most of a year when my employer stopped paying me and my tenant moved out. I was too preoccupied with my journey to get myself a new tenant so no money was coming into my account and mortgage arrears began to accrue. In 1999 my father discovered the flat was about to be repossessed and sold it (using his Enduring Power of Attorney I had been advised to get). Of course it was not his fault, he was an old man and did what he thought best.

 

This did not need to happen because (a) a new tenant could have easily been found and (b) as a work place benefit I had sickness insurance pay from Unum Ltd (www.unum.com). It just needed a claim put in and I would have got 90% of my salary coming in monthly the rest made up by incapacity

My flat, flat 2 20 Rocks Lane, Barnes, SW13 with me in it 1990

benefit. No need to sell the flat.  Later I lost my job anyway so it was not possible to get back on the ladder at least until I recovered after 2004. 

 

Royal College of Psychiatrists Accreditation of Inpatient Mental Health Services

Health Record Audit (2019 version)

2.19 [1] Where a patient is being admitted directly from the community, the admitting nurse checks that the referring agency gives clear details on and management plans for:

  • the security of the patient’s home;

  • arrangements for dependents (children, people they are caring for);

  • arrangements for pets.

I recently spoke to somebody about this subject at the Royal College and they replied:

When you originally emailed me your question, I did ask around the CCQI (College Centre for Quality Improvement), to see how other projects were interpreting this standard: most projects seemed to think that the question was really about physical security, i.e. whether the front door is locked.  However, it was also pointed out to me that there’s a version of this standard in a NICE guideline (NG53, “Transition between inpatient mental health settings and community or care home settings”):

The admitting nurse or person responsible should discuss with the person how to manage domestic and caring arrangements and liaise with the appropriate agencies. This may include:

  • people they have a responsibility to care for, such as:

  • children

  • frail or ill relatives.

  • domestic arrangements, in particular:

  • home security

  • tenancy

  • benefits

  • home care service

  • pets.

This allows for a wider interpretation, and I’d like to see these additional items included: unfortunately, it’s going to have to wait a while, until the next time we revise the standards.  I’ll keep your comments on file for when we do that (some time next year).  Sorry I can’t action this immediately!

To conclude I would suggest that "benefits" should say "benefits including work place sickness insurance pay" which a fair proportion of the population  have in Great Britain. Don't start me on the social workers!