October 4, 2023

‘I was left crying and begging for help’ – young Kilkenny woman reveals harrowing ordeal at crisis-hit psychiatric unit

A young Kilkenny woman has spoken out about her harrowing personal experience at the crisis-hit psychiatric unit at University Hospital Waterford (UHW).

Mooncoin native Shauna Aylward, who is herself now a nursing student, bravely decided to go public with details of her treatment at the unit, which has been in the headlines over the past week due to chronic overcrowding.

In an emotional interview with WLRfm’s Damien Tiernan, Shauna revealed how:
*Patients soaked in urine were left neglected for hours;
*She was left on her own in a distressed state, “crying” and “begging” for help;
*She had to sleep in a chair in men’s “extra-large” pyjamas;
*She witnessed a naked male patient being “dragged” down a corridor in the unit.

Shauna, who was accompanied at the interview by Waterford TD Mary Butler (pictured together above), told how she suffered severe anxiety after she was involved in an abusive relationship.

She was an in-patient at the pyschiatric unit at UHW between May and August this year.

After she was admitted, she was left embarrassed after she was given men’s extra-large communal pyjamas to wear, which didn’t fit her.

Shauna said: “They were nearly swimming on me as I am a woman’s size 8, nearly exposing myself and my pants were nearly falling off me. I felt very suicidal, very low and unsafe.”

On the first night she was admitted Shauna, who is originally from Ferrybank, was forced to sleep on a chair with just a bedsheet to cover her.

She also feared for her safety after she was threatened by another patient.

Shauna recalled: “I was very scared, I couldn’t sleep. I was given medication to try and make me tired. How is it comfortable for anyone to sleep on a chair?”

On some occasions, patients in the unit were left covered in their own faeces and urine, according to Shauna.

“Patients covered in their urine and faeces and would go unnoticed all day until families would arrive at visiting hours between 6pm – 8pm,” she said.

Shauna said she believed she was going to get help when she was first admitted to the psychiatric unit. But the reality was very different.

“I honestly didn’t think the ward would be like that. I thought it would be somewhere I would feel safe,” she said.

Despite her ordeal, Shauna insisted the problems at the psychiatic unit are not the fault of the nurses, but that the facility is badly “understaffed”.

She said: “I didn’t need to be stuffed full of medication. Sometimes I was left for hours crying and crying, begging for staff members to speak to me.

“No 19-year-old girl needs to be put on 800mg of medication. I needed someone to speak to me about what was going on in my head.”

Shauna also told how she witnessed a naked  man being “dragged” down a corridor to an isolation room.

She recalled: “It’s a human right to have your privacy and that was taken away from that male patient.”

Shauna said she has now recovered from her ordeal and is attending a nursing course at the Waterford College of Further Education.

“I had to do it myself, get my inner strength to know that I have to get better, and I did. I am just glad to be where I am right now, not in that ward, in that hospital feeling as low as I was.”

PHOTO: Shauna Aylward, Facebook

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