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To ask about psychiatric wards. **title edited by MNHQ**

(74 Posts)
Nerdygalwithabook Tue 28-Jun-16 00:04:58

Has anyone got any advice or experience of staying in a respite centre or a mental health or psychiatric ward? Hopefully not too bad things! Like do you share rooms? Is it really dreadful? Are the nurses nice? What do you do? Do you sit in your room at all times? Etc
Thank you xx

SeventyNineBottlesOfWine Tue 28-Jun-16 00:08:57

I have stayed in a psychiatric hospital twice.
I can't say it was exactly the best time of my life as I was suicidal.
Sometimes I shared a room, other times, not.
Some nurses were nice, others I wasn't so keen on.
At first I did sit in my room a lot- this was discouraged.
There was a community room where we could all sit and chat. That really helped with the process of recovery.
It's not dreadful- it was what I needed to stay alive.

Tabsicle Tue 28-Jun-16 00:11:44

I have! I spent some time in the Maudsley in London. I had my own room, but could wander around the ward during the day and go outside into the garden if I had a visitor to escort me.

Nurses were nice but busy and didn't chat much. Food was awful. Some of the other patients were scary but some were lovely - we had a little French language club going over breakfast.

Not a lot to do most of the time - I'd recommend books!

Not fun, exactly, but it saved my life and also got me fast tracked into getting the help I needed.

Nerdygalwithabook Tue 28-Jun-16 00:20:46

Is it not all like in the movies where people hang themselves and piss in the corridors and attack you? I know it sounds stupid but I have bad anxiety and this genuinely worries me. Thanks for your words so far guys x

Nerdygalwithabook Tue 28-Jun-16 00:22:16

Did you have to eat in a communal dining area? Where people with eating disorders in a separate unit or everyone mixed together. Is there like a high risk and secure ward for people who are violent or actually out of their minds? Like I can't think of a better way to put it. Like running around naked and stuff. I don't mean to sound mean. Again. Fucking anxiety.

Tabsicle Tue 28-Jun-16 00:35:43

I have no idea what anyone else was in for. That never got discussed. I was there as I'm bipolar and was having an episode so it wasn't relevant to me.

I was in the secure ward which was where the high risk patients went. So, um, yeah. I had some odd moments - a couple of fights (I wasn't in them, they got broken up v quickly), a couple of naked women (they were quite harmless though and I just didn't look at them) and a couple of threats.

Um. I know this doesn't sound soothing, but in my experience there are always a couple of nurses around in the communal space to keep an eye on things and the only time I was alone I was in my room with the door shut. I don't know if there are non-secure wards - maybe someone else can help?

Re: food - at the Maudsley it was served in a communal dining hall. I hated the food so didn't eat there and made my OH bring me in food in the evening, which did get noticed but was allowed.

It is a scary place, I won't lie, but it's there to keep you safe while the professionals figure out a plan to get you better. View it as a gateway or a pause or something, and work with the doctors as much as you can to get yourself out again.

snowvelvet Tue 28-Jun-16 00:47:02

I've been in both NHS and private.

NHS - it's not great, I'll be honest! But you bond quite quickly and I admit that seeing some of the very, very unwell patients made me reassess my own experience quite quickly. I was there for a week. Food was abysmal. Own room. Staff very busy, nothing therapeutic going on at all. Spent the time smoking a lot...

Private - own room. Lots of groups. Lots more contact with staff and psychiatrist. Food wouldn't have been out of place at a posh restaurant. Was there for three weeks first time, six the second.

NHS and private are world's apart.

Either way, if it has been recommended to keep you safe, please go with it.

Nerdygalwithabook Tue 28-Jun-16 00:53:01

I worry about the food as well because I have eating problems and I don't want to be forced to eat horrible food sad

snowvelvet Tue 28-Jun-16 01:11:40

You select from a menu. Or you did in the NHS I was in. I was able to have my own food in my room and there was a communal fridge. However, things would be taken, so I stuck with non-perishables.

If you're informal, you are allowed to leave. It depends if you're allowed alone or with guests. Formal is more difficult, as you would be chaperoned if permitted and staff numbers meant that they were rarely allowed out of the ward.

user1465823522 Tue 28-Jun-16 01:29:46

*Has anyone got any advice or experience of staying in a respite centre or a mental health or psychiatric ward? Hopefully not too bad things! Like do you share rooms? Is it really dreadful? Are the nurses nice? What do you do? Do you sit in your room at all times? Etc
Thank you xx*

On personal experience -

no rooms, you are on a ward with others- in my case there were 16 of us, four to a room curtains to separate the beds. sounds impersonal but honestly, at the start you don't care and by the end you really come to rely on other patients for understanding and support. you are locked in (this was a major thing). you got a say in your meal choice but what you ate and drank was monitored - including water. I'm a vegetarian with a history of eating problems and this was all taken into consideration. I was never 'forced' to eat anything.

Re the staff: the doctors were mostly young oxbridge types on residency, but the nurses were fucking amazing. The NHS runs on nurses and they are seriously underestimated and under valued.

On the third or fourth day of my stay I witnessed two very slight german nurses deal with a 20 stone man on a rampage with minimal force adn utter compassion.

I don't know what its like at other hospitals or areas, but I cannot say enough good things about the nurses who looked after me,

holidaysarenice Tue 28-Jun-16 01:31:02

I've worked in many and all are very different and I wouldn't rate the private ones. Is it likely that you will become a patient or just an anxiety that you have?
What you do etc very much depends on the ward, your health, reasons for being there etc.
feel free to ask any questions

user1465823522 Tue 28-Jun-16 01:31:37

and as for what you do all day - well, we all became very addicted to trashy magazines and would share them with each other,. it was also a big thing when someone's family brought in food - first time she came to visit my mum brought four tuna and mayo sandwiches. the second time sjhe came she brought about 30. That was a good day.

GarlicStake Tue 28-Jun-16 01:41:53

The people I've heard complaining the most about in-patient mental health treatment were the ones who wouldn't "engage" and were therefore not going to get better!

I've been a private inpatient and an NHS outpatient. You get weirdness and some violence in both settings, what with the nature of the thing. Completely agree with the previous poster about staff, particularly the nurses. Their de-escalation skills are awesome, their knowledge vast and their empathy surprising!

One of their greatest gifts, ime, is an ability to make you feel safe. When you're in a state of crisis, that is worth gold.

At my (private) hospital, eating disorders ate in the dining room. They tended to cluster together and everyone was asked to watch out for people not eating. We'd alert a staff member. Patients were never to interfere in someone else's "process" - is that what you're scared of?

One of my nieces has been a long-term patient in a specialist NHS facility, which was lovely by her account. She's still very slim and has been healthy for 6 years now smile

If you find you hate the food, I'd have a chat with whoever's looking after you about the most helpful things for visitors to get you!

Good luck, get better flowers

maggiecate Tue 28-Jun-16 01:43:37

Not as a patient, but as close family.

They had mostly single rooms with private showers and a couple of four-bed wards, usually for patients who needed more observation. There was a big communal room, a quiet room and a TV room. It was a fairly new building so all mod cons. My family member had no complaints about the food, so it probably very much depends on the set up. You had a daily menu to choose from if I remember rightly and visitors could bring stuff in. She was there for several months - the nurses were great, and I'll never forget how thrilled they seemed when she was well enough to leave. Some were warmer than others, but none of them were awful.

At the end of the day, it was being in hospital and it's not something you'd choose if you could avoid it, but nothing like as awful as I'd imagined a mental health facility would be - I've seen general wards that were much much worse places to be.

Blondie1984 Tue 28-Jun-16 01:47:45

OP are you going in for treatment relating to your eating issues or for something else?

primitivemom Tue 28-Jun-16 01:48:21

Hi Nerdy, I have spent time in hospital mental health unit. Was a new building so own rooms and showers Etc, it felt better to be able to just go to my room . I felt safe enough though, plenty staff around and the other patients were nice, everyone has different issues of course, was just polite and kept myself to myself , hope you are ok flowers

Doyouthinktheysaurus Tue 28-Jun-16 01:48:51

I'm an rmn on shift on an acute ward at the moment.
You'll almost certainly have your own room, hopefully in a female only corridor or ward. I work on a single sex ward.
There will be a mix of patients, some may be suffering psychosis and it can be a bit frightening at first. As nurses, we work very hard to maintain a safe environment and support patients to feel safe and secure.
I certainly wouldn't pressure anyone to eat and we would try to be understanding if someone felt uncomfortable eating around others. The food can be a bit rubbish!

I hope you get the help you need opthanks

user1465823522 Tue 28-Jun-16 02:25:12

You'll almost certainly have your own room, hopefully in a female only corridor or ward.

Not ONCE since i was a child have I EVER been in my own room on a single sex ward. And more recently my daughter has NEVER been in her own room on a single sex ward,.

In ideal land sure, but in reality, not so much.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Tue 28-Jun-16 03:00:55

All the wards in the trust I work for have single sex corridors at a minimum. And we no longer have any open bays at all. That is the reality in some parts of the country at least.

It's very sad if there are still units with shared dormitory style sleep arrangements. I can understand that single sex wards aren't the norm, we are very lucky in that respect, but it's been a good 10 years since we switched to single sex corridors.

x2boys Tue 28-Jun-16 04:23:56

I,m also an RMN although not working right now the trust i worked had all single rooms patients are encouraged to spend time in communal areas and eat in the ward dining area generally staff are plessent and try to be helpful although i have encountered some less pleasent and helpful staff over the yrs hopefully you wont meat them. Good luck op hope you feel better soon.

JazzTheDog Tue 28-Jun-16 05:54:22

Also RMN on shift at the moment in a mixed sex ward with 3 x 6 bed dorms and 6 single rooms. We have all types of mental illness including early dementia assessment. Single rooms are for our most acutely ill patients and patients on constant observations.

I feel that we keep our ward safe and that our patients generally feel safe during their time on the ward. The door is locked, there are 2 communal seating areas, open access to puzzles, games, crafts, music, tv and the dining room seating area is open to patients visitors also. We have daily set activities and the physiotherapists also run daily gym groups.

We don't force people to eat food they don't like but we do give lots of encouragement to eat, there's a fridge in the ward office kitchen for patients. Intake is monitored for at least 72 hours and weight checked weekly. If you were losing weight you would be given supplements to prevent further loss.

Lots of 'first timers' are surprised at how relaxed it can be. I hope you can avoid admission and feel more settled soon.

AliceScarlett Tue 28-Jun-16 07:43:10

I've never had my own room.

Also, "mental wards" isn't the best name to use.

If you're going in for ED you will probably be on a specialist ward.

attheendoftheday Tue 28-Jun-16 09:14:32

I am a mental health nurse.

My ward is very nice. All private rooms with enough suites, in a modern building. Single sex wards. I think the nurses are nice, we try to be! There are a number of communal areas - dining area with a drinks bay with drinks and snacks always available, 2 different TV rooms, an activity area and 2 different outdoor areas always accessible.

The downsides - no smoking on the ward or anywhere on the hospital, you have to go offsite. Only one bathroom, the environment suites have showers. The beds are a bit narrow and we sometimes get complaints they aren't firm enough. We carry out checks on people during the night and some people find this disturbs their sleep.

It is nothing like films. Nothing at all.

Unfortunately, there are times where you might hear other people who are distressed - crying or angry. But the ward is arranged to reduced how much this disturbs others. You are very unlikely to see anything more than this from other patients.

attheendoftheday Tue 28-Jun-16 09:15:05

Enough suites = en suites

attheendoftheday Tue 28-Jun-16 09:21:55

With regards to being bored, there is a programme called Star Ward's which mental health ward's can work towards providing more activities. We currently offer 3 activities a day on the ward (things like card making, quizzes or mindfulness sessions, therapy dogs come once a week). There is also an OT department offering two further activities away from the ward and an exercise therapy department open 8 hours a day doing gym sessions, sports and walking groups.

It is not perfect, it's hard to find activities that everyone likes and we have very little budget, but things are much, much better than they were a few years ago.

This is NHS, by the way. Not all wards are bad.

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