Monday 11th April 2016

I once sat in a child safeguarding case review, as a clinical psychologist, with a young woman with serious mental health problems who was about to lose her child to the care system. Although she knew on some level that she couldn’t cope with the demands of parenting, the meeting was still devastating for her because she loved her child and had wanted things to be different. She got upset and angry; she struggled to listen and she raised her voice. The experienced social worker who was chairing this meeting scolded her for being too emotional; she seemed cross that this young woman was making the meeting more difficult. I was shocked at her lack of empathy and wondered how often the social worker got irritated with vulnerable people, but I didn’t mention it to anyone.

Years ago I worked with a nurse who was consistently unkind to patients with dementia, talking down to them like children and dismissing them in an irritated way if they made demands on her time. I wondered whether I ought to say something to the ward manager but ultimately took it no further. As one off incidents these are not too bad but if they are indicative of more pervasive behaviours then this is worrying.