"I found I was treated with respect and dignity"

My name is Malcolm and this is my story of my experience with the St Vincent’s Mental Health Service.

Until 2016 I had been living in a boarding house in Surry Hills for 14 years. I had a number of health issues including infected vascular wounds, swollen lower limbs and a slow healing wound on my right forearm. I was asked to vacate the boarding house in February 2016 and became homeless for three weeks. While I was at Ward Park (a community park in inner Sydney) I met a Social Worker and we discussed my health issues and options, and decided that my wounds needed medical attention. Paramedics were called and I was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney where I was admitted.

My wounds were treated in St Vincent’s Public Hospital, where I was also diagnosed with Schizophrenia after speaking with a Psychiatrist. I was then admitted to Caritas (the acute mental health unit) where I was started on medication and continued getting my wounds dressed. I was in Caritas for two weeks. While in Caritas I found I was treated with respect and dignity, and my medical needs were attended to. I found the nursing and psychiatry staff to be supportive.

I was then transferred to Tierney House, which is an accommodation and health service for homeless men, where I spent another three weeks. While there I started to work with Haylee, an Occupational Therapist from the St Vincent’s Mental Health Rehabilitation Service, who helped me to find longer term accommodation. I continued to attend the Hospital in the Clinic at St Vincent’s to have my wounds dressed.

In March 2016 I moved into supported accommodation run by Independent Community Living Australia (ICLA). For the last year I have been working with Haylee and her colleagues from the St Vincent’s Mental Health Rehabilitation Service, through which I have participated in a number of groups, including a therapeutic art group, a photography group (Picturing Your Wellbeing), and a horticultural group (GROW). With the assistance of Haylee I was successful in receiving the Disability Support Pension. During this time I also completed a computer course and an art group in the community.

Today, I still work with the St Vincent’s Rehabilitation Service on a voluntary basis. Currently I am doing therapy sessions with Helen, a Clinical Psychologist, and I practice mindfulness meditation which I find to be helpful. I still live in Woolloomooloo and I try to attend cooking and art classes on a regular basis at the Ozanam Learning Centre on Forbes Street. My wounds have now healed and I’ve had a basal-cell-carcinoma removed from my right forearm, and have a planned hernia surgery. I hope to return to study Commercial Cookery at Tafe in July which I hope will lead to full time employment.

To help people like Malcolm get back on their feet, please donate to St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney’s Mental Health services.  

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