Personal Counselling: Mental Health Ward Admission – What to expect & how to make your stay more comfortable

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There are times in our life where an incident or event occurs and causes us to experience trauma, grief and loss, depression, anxiety, stress or that we push down our feelings by using substances or self-harming techniques.  For others there is a biological component to their mental health condition.

Whether you are admitted to a public or private mental health ward (also known as Psychiatric Ward), your stay will largely be determined by your individual circumstances, your doctors’ recommendations and the severity of your mental health condition.

Regardless of the sector you are admitted into accessing and accepting this type of care can be confronting and challenging at the best of times.

Drawing on ones’ knowledge, individuals are generally admitted as a rule of thumb for a minimum 3 weeks for their first admission, though it can be shorter or longer if need be.

mental-health-ward-pic-2WARD ADMISSION

Upon admittance you can expect to be greeted by the NUM (Nursing Unit Manager) or nursing personnel who will run through the admission procedure with you that is they will tell you how often you will see your psychiatrist and psychologist (even if you have had a discussion with them over the telephone prior to arrival), the types of activities on offer, their expectation for your stay, show you to your room and request that you complete a diverse array of paperwork.

Be mindful that even though you have medical insurance you may share a room with someone for the first week or so until a private bed becomes available as not all rooms are singles (in general).  Also be mindful that the main difference between the mental health ward and other types of wards is that you are expected to be more independent and self-reliant.  That is, you will be expected to change your own sheets, wash your own clothes, make your bed and keep your room presentable; for you are able to function without the assistance of nursing staff in this regard and are in the hospital grounds for an extended period of time to improve your mental health.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR STAY

To get the most out of your stay it is recommended that you participate in all your assigned medical appointments as well as the many group activities on offer – this will vary from facility to facility.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR WARDS

The key difference between the public and private sector is that the public system patients are locked down in the facility, some against their will for example it has been mandated by a court that they are there for observation or treatment and cannot discharge without the consent of their doctor.

However, the private system is very different; that is patients are there voluntarily and can generally after a few days or a week obtain escorted leave from the facility to visit family and friends or to go shopping; in time patients will be given un-escorted leave access but will still have to sign in and out of the ward.  The key difference in the private system is the patient is in the ward voluntarily thus they are able to refuse medication and interventions and can leave when they choose in other words they can self-discharge against doctors’ orders.

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TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM PAST PATIENTS

As part of ones’ research one asked past patients what items would they bring into hospital to make their stay as comfortable as possible; their top 20 responses are listed below (in alphabetical order): –

 

  1. 1 or 2 stuffed toys i.e. teddy bear to cuddle in times of distress
  2. Aromatherapy oils & electric oil burner (no tea candles allowed) and/or room sprays
  3. Arts and Craft supplies i.e. knitting needles and balls of wool
  4. Books and magazines plus nightlight for reading
  5. Comforter, doona or throw blanket
  6. Food –home cooked meals; lollies, chocolates, chips and non-alcoholic drinks
  7. IPod with earphones, music and meditations
  8. Jumper and/or track suit even in summer air conditioner is very cold
  9. Kindle or Kobo – loaded with books
  10. Laptop with external hard drive loaded up with stacks of movies and blue tooth headphones
  11. Mindfulness colouring in books plus pencils
  12. Mobile phone and/or tablet to stay in contact with loved ones
  13. Moisturisers and face masks – hydrating – air conditioner dries out skin
  14. My own pillow
  15. Nurf ball and/or sticks
  16. Pictures and/or video clips of family and friends
  17. Pictures and/or video clips pets
  18. Puzzles, crosswords and Sudoku
  19. Sinus medications and/or nasal spray – air conditioner can give you sinus
  20. Stationery – Blu tack, pencils, journals, glue etc.

In closing, please remember that each facility is different and thus will have variances into what is acceptable vs unacceptable thus please use this information as a guide but be mindful to ask your hospital what is acceptable to bring in for otherwise you have the chance of the item been refused or confiscated upon admittance as it could be deemed dangerous or inappropriate.

Author: Katherine J Foster – Counsellor/Career Development Specialist – 30 Nov 2016

About Author: – Katherine is the founder of Blu Ripples a private counselling and consulting practice located in Port Stephens NSW.  Katherine is a nationally accredited counsellor, career development specialist, NSW Committee and Professional Member of the CDAA and Member of ACA. 

 

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