Five years ago, Brian’s life changed completely when his mother passed away. Brian had been actively engaged in his local community in West London where he grew up – sitting on the committee at his local community centre and volunteering with a charity for the elderly. After his mother’s death, Brian lodged with his stepfather but their relationship was strained, and the opportunities within his local community started to dry up. Brian said: “After mum died, I had nothing to do – everything stopped running”.
Due to his bereavement and the loss of many of his past community engagements, Brian’s mental health deteriorated, and he ended up in a coma following a suicide attempt.
After spending three months in hospital, Brian was discharged. He couldn’t go back to his previous accommodation and was told that arrangements would be made for him to stay somewhere with some after-care in place. However, Brian explains: “They said, ‘We’ll sort it out for you’. But nothing got done.”
Brian was discharged to a guesthouse, but says he didn’t get the support he needed. He was still very weak at the time, and needed to walk with a stick, so he found it challenging even to travel from the hospital to the guesthouse on his own. Once there, Brian found it very difficult to get around, and everyday tasks – such as shopping, using the bathroom, and taking care of himself – were a big struggle.
After a few months at the guesthouse, Brian was assigned a social worker who eventually helped him get a place in the St Mungo’s hostel where he’s now staying. However, for months, he struggled to manage on his own at the guesthouse.
Brian said: “without the right support I would have ended up homeless [on the street]…I couldn’t cope by myself; I was very vulnerable at the time”. He described his experience of being discharged from hospital as “a big let-down all round”.
Brian is now registered with a GP nearby the hostel, and also sees a psychiatrist. He said “this place has been a godsend”. He’s involved in some activities in the hostel and the local area, and appreciates having a key worker who works with him on identifying his needs and helping him achieve his aims.
Speaking of being discharged from hospital, Brian thinks that in the future, those in charge of discharge must “check and make sure those things [support and aftercare] are put in place – for example, ensuring there’s a carer to come round and check on you…In my case, something should have been done about that”.