My Recovery Story – S, Ty Gwyn Hall

I came to Ty Gwyn Hall Hospital from Llandough Hospital in Cardiff, after suffering a horrendous brain injury and being nursed in the ward dealing with Acquired Brain Injury patients on a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard.

I was in Llandough for a year and felt I “wasn’t going anywhere fast”, feeling depressed and negative about myself and my life. I was having thoughts about self harm and suicide. I was also trying “to escape” frequently and was giving Lorazepam to help sedate me and calm me down.

One day, when my care co-ordinator saw me, he saw how low I was and suggested a hospital with whom he had worked in the past as a way to help change the way I felt and it was agreed that I would move to Ty Gwyn Hall Hospital in Abergavenny – a move that my family also supported.

When I arrived my initial thoughts were positive as the environment and staff seemed friendly but I soon became depressed again, tending to stay in bed a lot and not really engage with staff or peers. I also tried to leave several times and was taking Lorazepam again which although I didn’t like, helped me to cope with my life.

Then one day, in a fluke accident, I tripped over and damaged my knee, preventing me from climbing the stairs to my bedroom and so it was decided that I would go to Pentwyn Unit (a 4 bedroom step down for those nearing discharge) whilst I recovered, as it was on one level.

The plan was for me to stay there for a few days and then to be transferred back to Ty Gwyn but I felt I “belonged there”, getting on great with the staff and the other residents and so I asked the MDT if I could stay, which to my joy they agreed to!

From then on my life and outlook changed, I started to look after myself by attending to my personal hygiene and doing chores which entailed me looking after my room and the shared environment, doing my own washing, shopping and cooking for myself. I did all this with the help of the whole Ty Gwyn team. I started to “build my life again” and for the first time in a very long time I had something to look forward to and goals to plan. I changed from “feeling like nothing” to “feeling positive again”.

I now wanted to embrace all the help and support that the hospital would provide for me, working with the Occupational Therapy team doing Cognitive Remediation Therapy work, cooking sessions, work placements both on site (for which I got paid) and in a local animal charity, which I love! I also do my passion of fishing once a week with staff.

I have worked closely with our Psychologists, attending and passing an ETS group and I have developed a great trusting and therapeutic relationship with the clinical and nursing team, with both the consultant and my primary nurse going that extra mile for me.

The staff at Pentwyn were so relaxed and friendly and it was there that I also forged friendships with the other residents, one especially – a male who is very selective with whom he bothers with.

The environment there was calm and relaxed and people respect each other. It’s almost like a family, everyone understands and supports each other.

At Pentwyn, because there are only 4 patients you get to know the staff really well, as the staff team remain the same promoting consistency. Staff really help with your recovery because they are encouraging, they help you gain your independence and empower you to achieve your own level of independence.

I have now moved to Tydfil House, the community home, which is just a few miles from the hospital. I still have the same professionals with me and also staff who have transferred from Pentwyn and Ty Gwyn. I am really more independent now and am no longer on a DOLS but informal and responsible for my own medication and lifestyle choices. Although I still need some support from staff I am a lot further down the road to recovery and the friendship that I made with the other resident in Pentwyn is hopefully going to continue as he is due to come to the community home. And, I’m still fishing…!

My family are really pleased with both my progress and my life at present, with the plan to work towards a place of my own in Abergavenny as I feel happy and comfortable with the community and the life I have now.

I believe that Pentwyn and all the staff at Ty Gwyn were key to taking me to the right step in my recovery and I think all hospitals should have a step down recovery unit and community home, promoting and embracing the recognised pathway to life back into the community and the real world.