Experiences of Mental Health in-Patient Care: Narratives from Service Users, Carers and Professionals

Experiences of Mental Health in-Patient Care: Narratives from Service Users, Carers and Professionals

Experiences of Mental Health in-Patient Care: Narratives from Service Users, Carers and Professionals

Experiences of Mental Health in-Patient Care: Narratives from Service Users, Carers and Professionals

Synopsis

Commended in the Mental Health category of the 2008 BMA Medical Book Competition.

This book offers an insight into the experience of psychiatric in-patient care, from both a professional and a user perspective. The editors highlight the problems in creating therapeutic environments within settings which are often poorly resourced, crisis driven and risk aversive.

The contributors argue that for change to occur there needs first of all to be a genuine appreciation of the experiences of those involved in the unpredictable, anxiety-arousing and sometimes threatening environment of the psychiatric ward. Each chapter comprises a personal account of in-patient care by those in the front line: people who have been admitted to a psychiatric ward; their relatives; or those that provide the care. These accounts are followed by two commentaries written from different perspectives, suggesting lessons that can be learnt to improve the quality of care.

Experiences of Mental Health In-patient Carewill be useful for all mental health professionals, including mental health nurses, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, arts therapists, social workers and trainees, as well as service users and carers organisations.

Excerpt

Rachel Perkins
Director of Quality Assurance and User/Carer Experience, South West London and St George’s Mental Health nhs Trust

Most people can expect to go into a general hospital at some time in their lives, if not as a patient, then as a visitor. They are the subject of repeated television drama series and hold no mystery. the same cannot be said of psychiatric hospitals. Popular images are based not on experience but on myth. On the one hand there are the Bedlam style images of caged ‘raving lunatics’. Places where ‘they’ – the insane – are contained either for their own safety or the safety of the rest of ‘us’. On the other hand, there is the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest image of places where those who are falsely deemed insane are incarcerated and subjected to demeaning and degrading ‘treatments’. Is it any wonder, then, that they hold such fear for many who do enter their doors?

Most people will never experience the reality of entering a psychiatric in-patient ward. But what is reality? the extraordinary collection of accounts contained in the pages of this book demonstrate that psychiatric in-patient wards look very different depending on your position in relation to them. the experience of someone occupying the role of patient is quite different from that of the person whose status is that of a visiting relative, friend or carer. the roles of patient and carer share the fact that they are not elective – the incumbents did not aspire to, or apply for, their relative positions like the staff who work there. Albeit from different perspectives, the users and carers share the experience of being thrust reluctantly into an alien and often frightening world that was not of their choosing.

On every page of the book I found in the accounts of users, carers and professionals gems that encapsulated so much of my own differing encounters with psychiatric in-patient care.

My first foray into the mysterious world of the mental hospital was in 1970 . . .

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