Salma is a young woman from North Africa. Within two months of arriving in the UK she was admitted to a mental health unit and detained under the Mental Health Act. POhWER received a referral for IMHA Support.

Ward staff told Tim, our IMHA they believed Salma had been brought to this country for an arranged marriage which had been abusive and she left her husband to live with her brother. Discharge plans were being made and staff hoped Tim could support Salma to make choices about her future.

Tim quickly identified that poor communication was a major issue for Salma with access only once a week to what had proved a poor interpreting service, who often failed to attend. He raised this issue with both the service and the Ward Manager.

Tim ensured that he used a reliable Arabic interpreter to explain Salma’s rights under the Mental Health Act to her, and her discharge choices. Salma asked Tim to come to weekly meetings with her and to talk to the ward team.

Tim successfully requested an interpreter for two additional weekly sessions so that Salma could talk to ward staff one-to-one, and supported Salma to ask for several things he had learned she badly wanted including; seeing an Imam to say prayers, access to Arabic books and to the hospital gardens. All were granted.

Tim met with Salma’s social worker and pointed out that a lot had been ‘assumed’. He explained that Salma had told him that rather than wanting to go back to live with her brother (as the social worker thought) she actually wanted to live in a community of Arabic speaking females where she would feel safe. Salma’s social worker is now looking for an Arabic speaking community where Salma can live with women of a similar cultural background and shared language.

Ward staff commented that Salma seems much happier and is often seen smiling on the ward. The Ward Manager thanked Tim for his involvement in Salma’s case and for raising issues with interpretation which the company has promised will not happen again.