Mental health crisis house for women – Drayton Park

>>Shirley McNicholas: I am Shirley McNicholas
and I am the Women’s lead for Camden and Islington Foundation Trust and the Founder
of Drayton Park Crisis House. I started working in mental health in 1987 in a big old psychiatric
hospital and really through my training and through my experience did not feel that any
of these ways of working with people was the way I’d work with people. So I worked and
I as a Ward Manager and I ran a day hospital and various things and I was fortunate enough
and in 1994 I was approached to develop two crisis houses, one of which was Drayton Park. So I founded an advisory group of women who
use services and men who were committed to providing women an alternative to hospital.>>Dr Stella Fremi: I’ve been working at Drayton Park for almost seven years and what I like the most is that we treat each and every woman as an individual,
not as someone who occupies a bed.>>Shirley McNicholas: I think there are some real benefits in having an alternative to hospital for many people who prefer to stay in a residential crisis
house as opposed to staying in hospital but they are not in competition with each other.
So crisis houses like crisis teams are alternatives to hospital admission they are not an equivalent
of an in-patient admission.>>Dr Stella Fremi: There are some women who suffer and endure mental health problems that might need to either need to go to a hospital or any other
crisis house and they are not able to do that because they don’t have the female only
option to feel safe.>>Shirley McNicholas: Luckily, in terms of the Trust, no body in the Trust has ever said, actually there should be a mixed team. Why is it a woman only team.
There’s never been an appetite to create women only teams in other service but there
hasn’t been any challenge about a woman only team. There are kind of myths about,
men aren’t welcome here, men aren’t allowed, everybody here is a lesbian or laughed at
the notion as we do a lot of body work here. We have two massage therapists who are fantastic
trauma informed massage therapists who do really good body work and made comments about
you know ‘ I suppose massage cures schizophrenia’ that kind of thing – which really has stopped
but we really had to kind of put up with that till we proved that we are a robust, safe
service.>>Andy: They don’t treat you like a diagnosis, they
treat you like a person. They want to hear about your story rather than what’s wrong
with you.>>Shirley McNicholas: 12 women can stay at Drayton Park at any one time, up to 4 children can stay here. Obviously there is a turn over so in an average month
there would be at least 20 women who would come to stay, because obviously people are
staying for a shorter time as far as possible. The admission process really we have to start
with a referral process so throughout the day anybody can pick up the phone and self
refer or make a professional referral to Drayton Park. As a crisis house you need to take referrals
24 hours a day. The team are hearing about the referral and doing that within the trauma
informed model that we work from and if we feel and hear from that referral that a woman
is in crisis then we would offer an assessment as soon as we can. As a crisis house and as
any crisis house, you cannot work very much with people who are feeling like hurting someone
else because women come and stay voluntarily with capacity and consent. So really most
of the time all the women who are staying at Drayton Park are feeling like they’d
like to end their lives or they are depressed to the point where they can’t take care
of themselves in the moment and lots of women have experienced urges to self harm.>>Resident: They collaborate well, very professional,
give you one to one sessions where needs to be. They are kind and responsive and they
look out for you during your course here. Every woman who stays here is offered two
one-to-ones during the day. The cornerstone to any therapeutic intervention is one to
one time not so much group time. To do kind of group time or pure group work, you really
need to establish people getting to know each other. In a crisis house, there is a high
turnover. So the model is, all the women, if you were staying here, all the women are
offered a one to one in the morning and then in the afternoon and all those one to one
sessions will be about ‘ I am losing my housing benefits..’ really intense practical
things that are incredibly stressful but also might be revealing details of childhood sexual
abuse, talkign about current domestic violence. The one to ones are therapeutic and practical
really what the woman needs to talk about to recover from the crisis. We try and think outside of the mental health
system, so in Camden and Islington area it’s a very rich, resourced area with lots of creativity,
lots of alternative services. So really trying to enrich that woman’s life and introduce
new ideas because really that’s how we can take care of all our mental health.>>Resident: I do recommend it immensely and people take advantage of it because we want as many clients coming through it as possible so the system
doesn’t get stopped or closed down. There is a new time, a new culture where the
CQC being interested in sexual safety and new drive to the women’s mental health taskforce
strategy document has just been released. So I think it;s time for relooking at how
we provide women’s mental health services and I hope there will be more Drayton Parks.

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