Northern Ireland news

Mother hits out at 'inhumane' Muckamore seclusion room

One mother has hit out at an "inhumane" seclusion room at Muckamore Abbey hospital in Co Antrim. Picture by Mal McCann
Seanín Graham

A MOTHER has described a seclusion room in Muckamore Abbey hospital as "inhumane".

The Dundonald mother-of-four made a request to see the room in July last year - more than two months after her 22-year-old son had been admitted to the facility's Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) when he become seriously ill.

Unbeknownst to the woman - and something that would take her family more than a year to discover - her son had been placed in seclusion more than 50 times in a three-month period. One stint in the room lasted more than two hours.

"It was no bigger than my bathroom, 12x8, and had horrible gym mat material on the ground covered in plastic. It was red and blue and the same gym material went halfway up the wall and was also covered in plastic," she said.

"There was just one chair like a rocking chair with no arms or legs and blacked out windows - I was horrified and asked the nurse in charge what happens if my son wants to use the toilet.

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"He said he was supposed to ring a bell and someone would come to the door - I told him 'it wasn’t good enough' and he agreed. There wasn’t even a drink for him. I knew my son, who knows how to signal to go to the toilet but can’t wipe himself or undo his trousers, would panic. I thought it was inhumane."

Distressed by the appalling conditions, the woman also asked the senior nurse if patients who panicked had ever had 'accidents' by not getting to the toilet in time or had made themselves sick while in seclusion.

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The woman said the nurse replied: "That's happened".

She added: "I walked out to the car park shaking and said to my husband, 'all is not what it seems in that hospital'. I smelt a rat…the Red Room or the Sin Bin is how I now refer to it".

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