Robert a service user at The Hospital Priory St Neots

Robert* was diagnosed with Huntington's disease seven years ago. He was treated by his local team until February 2008 when he was admitted informally to Priory Hospital St Neots. He was thought to be in the late stages of the disease.

From the time of his admission, he isolated himself in his bedroom with little of no communication with staff or fellow patients. He had lost contact with his family although his brother remained interested in his care.  Robert refused virtually all food choosing to have tea and toast only, or in some cases only water and he would only accept it from some staff. He was verbally aggressive, though not violent, when his routine was broken. He was also thought to be actively and acutely depressed, but he refused medication.

His physical and mental condition deteriorated due to his poor diet and lack of treatment. Following discussion within the multidisciplinary team it was felt that a radical approach to his treatment was required. His community Resident Medical Officer Social Worker and brother were involved and a decision was made to treat Robert with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Robert objected to this treatment and was therefore sectioned under the mental health Act. He was transferred to the local general hospital where his physical health was managed through intravenous infusion, while the arrangements were made for, and through the course of the ECT.

Robert was soon mobilising and eating normally. His communication improved and he was able to sit in the lounge and dining room with fellow patients. He was also able to advocate his needs. Community access programmes have now been put in place, and active steps are being made to re-establish family contact and support. His finances have also been sorted out.

Robert has expressed his appreciation for the improvement in his quality of life although the outlook for his condition remains poor. He said, I am just happy I do not have to be in bed and that world of darkness all day and night."

Consultant Psychiatrist, Brian Murray, who managed Robert's care prior to his admission to Priory said, in a letter dated 12th November 2008, he was "impressed with his  (Robert's) recovery." He offered his congratulation on what he thought was a "brave decision to give ECT."

Although Robert remains ill with what is debilitating illness his quality of life has been significantly improved.

*  Please note, where necessary, the names used within case studies have been changed to protect confidentiality.