Today after being asked a few times lately, I thought I’d let you in a bit more and talk a little about my experiences on numerous mental health wards/units both secure and less secure. There’s always an element of security, due to so many vulnerable people being under one roof and a percentage want to get out to harm themselves, me included. So there’s protocols for each patient, risk assessments etc. That’s whether you are there by your own admission or having been sectioned. There’s a duty of care in place and it’s taken very seriously, so for example if you’re a smoker and a danger to yourself or others, there’ll be no leaving the unit for a cig, in fact they’ll give you NHS Vape’s, patches or gum. I found the Vape’s too strong but it’s better than nothing and it can be very stressful times if you get to the point of hospitalisation, so you take what you are offered.
Every place that I’ve had the pleasure of going to has had relatively good single rooms designed to be comfortable and safe at the same time. For instance the furniture is either seamlessly fixed to the floors or walls. The coat/clothes hooks are bendy plastic and the curtains held up by magnets. The leads for the TV are shortened so they can’t be used either for bad intentions. There’s always a window of some description on the door for observations and if you wake easily, you’ll learn to hate it because depending on your risk assessment, they could be checking on you every ten minutes, all night long with a torch shining through at your face and chest to make sure you’re breathing or haven’t done something to harm yourself.
What ive missed out so far is your arrival, whether by ambulance, police, car or helicopter in one case, you’ll have at least two members of staff to meet you. One will do the paperwork and risk assessments, asking a lot of questions, some very intrusive, but it’s best to be honest otherwise you won’t get the best treatment for your situation. The other member will be searching you and your kit thoroughly for anything that can harm you or others, any contraband i.e drugs or alcohol. They’ll take your tobacco products including lighter, cash and valuables, then give you a drawer/locker number so that you can have access when needed. Depending on your risk status, they’ll take your belts, laces and draw strings from hoodies etc. Again it depends on risk as to whether you’re allowed your phone charger, if not then you can have your phone charged in the office when needed. REMEMBER though, this all sounds harsh but it’s to keep you safe, that’s why you are there. Once they’ve finished all of this you’ll be seen by the on-duty nurse or nurse practitioner, to both sort through what meds you’ve brought with you and to give you a physical check-up. Then once you’re settled in you’ll be seen by both a medical doctor, to address any physical problems and then a Psychiatrist after to assess the problems that you’re experiencing. There is a lot of waiting but there’s plenty to keep you occupied and they’ll come and get you when they’re ready.
The staff are amazing, hard working, friendly, honest and most importantly highly trained. I must have been lucky, I don’t remember ever meeting a bad member of staff and I’ve come in to contact with hundreds. It takes a very special kind of character to do the job they do, however do not confuse kindness for weakness, they are the fastest band of Ninjas I’ve ever seen in my life. No matter how big or hard you think you are, I’ve watched the smallest female staff member take down the biggest guy on the ward in the blink of an eye, without breaking a sweat…So be warned. On the other hand, they’re very approachable and great listeners, they’ll do everything they can to help you. If they can’t, they know somebody else that can.
There’s normally plenty of thing’s to keep you busy. Occupational therapy (arts, crafts, soaps, bath bombs), fitness programs, group sessions, massages, acupuncture, sensory rooms, TV’s, pool table, gardening, accompanied walks to the local shop. Sounds like a holiday park but it’s NOT. You’re there to get better nothing else.
Getting off the ward depends on your status. If you’re legally sectioned you can’t leave unless accompanied by staff. If you’re there through other means then you can normally go out unaccompanied to the shop etc during certain hours of the day. In general having to be back during meal times, then you can have your last cigarette at about 2130-2200 hrs before bed. Everything I’ve written here depends on the unit, each is different but this is generally what happens.
Today has been a lazy, relaxed, wake up late and achieve nothing kind of day for me. I say achieve nothing but all of my good ‘habits’ kicked in and all taken care of, plus a couple of chores. otherwise, lazy. I’ve not been on-line much at all either. I have a reason for ignoring today but I’m not ready to share that just yet. I have given my head a rest, it needed it I think and I feel great for it.
I think I’ll leave that there for today, I have a feeling this is going to start a series of posts now. I have a lot to write on this subject. Thank you for reading you beautiful people, have an awesome day! Much love!
Till next time folks