Stresses of visiting forensic settings
Carers can dread going to visit their relatives and many interviewees talked about the impact that the person’s state of mind can have on the visit as well as the outcome of the visit, for example, one carer commented:
It depends on how the patient is feeling and as I say you know speaking to quite a lot of the carers, we all go in with that `oh god what’s it going to be like?’ I had a visit last week with my brother and I know my son was very much looking forward to seeing my brother and it was disastrous. (mother)
Several interviewees referred to ‘dreading visits’ and when a visit went badly, taking a break from visiting in order to cope. However, this could lead to feelings of guilt:
If I took Saturday or Sunday off I’d feel guilty now… my wife used to visit him every week also through the week. (father)
Some noted that it had been helpful when staff were able to let them know in advance if the person was not feeling up to a visit, and potentially save them a wasted journey:
…support from the staff is that if he’s a bit out of sorts he says `oh I don’t feel like a visit’, and that’s so much better, it’s so much better than us driving down 15 miles and having a bad visit with him. (mother)
There are many stresses experienced by forensic carers in relation to visits and one of the key sources of stress was when they were not consulted and kept informed about their relative. Their relationship with the person could have its own difficulties, and having staff that were able to support the caring relationship made all the difference.