My experience of an Irish psychiatric institution
|you may be wondering what inspired me to write an essay on the topic of what its like in a psychiatric institution well for two reasons believe it or not I am currently in one whilst I am writing this. One is because I wish to get rid of some of the myths surrounding institutions and two is because its an area unless you are mentally ill you will never have to experience the sights sounds and smells surrounding them.
I am currently in the DOP (Department of psychiatry) in a hospital in Ireland, the hospital has two functions one is for the mentally ill (the DOP) and the other function is a regular hospital and yes patients from both sides mix occasionally depending on your privileges as I will explain later on. Now to get rid of the first myth nurses and doctors don't wear white jackets infact the male nurses wear casual trousers and normally a shirt and the female nurses wear dark blue trousers and a blue top (with the exception of male and female student nurses who wear dark blue trousers and a white top with a red strip at the end of the sleeve) and the male doctors wear suits and female doctors wear smart attire.
When you come into the DOP you first go to a ward called the acute ward where you are asked a series of questions which determine your mental state they also ask questions regarding your upbringing and if you have self harmed. They will also carry out a basic physical examination. When on the acute ward you have to be dressed in what they call nighttime attire which is pajama bottoms and a pajama top you are also allowed a dressing gown provided it has no strap and you are allowed shoes provided they have no laces. everything else which you have brought to the hospital gets locked away and whilst on the acute ward you are not allowed a phone or any other devices like laptops etc. If you are a smoker you are allowed to keep your cigarettes but you are not allowed a lighter in the acute ward. There is a smoking area in a fenced of bit of what could loosely be defined as garden and to light your cigarette there is a box attached to the wall with a hole and a button the hole is just large enough for a cigarette to be put into and once the button has been pressed it heats up an element inside the hole which you use to light your smoke. The acute ward is a locked ward so under no circumstances are you allowed anywhere apart from the smoking area and the ward itself. There are no activities in the acute ward at all, which means that walking around in small circles and chatting with other patients is the only way to kill time. In the sub acute you have a bed and a very small locker to put things in. The acute ward consist of two bedding areas one for males and one for females and an outside smoking area which is monitored by three security cameras and the fence is to high to climb or jump over making chances of escape slim. Different people spend different amounts of time in the acute ward depending on a number of factors but the main three are;
They pose a risk to themselves
they pose a risk to others
they are likely to try to escape
once they no longer fit into the three categories outlined above they are moved onto the sub-acute ward on the say so of your doctor.
There is routine in the DOP breakfast is a 8 and consists of a bowl of cereal and some toast this is the first point in the day to take medication. Dinner is at 1 and normally consists of meat, veg and always mashed potato this is another point medication is given out. The last opportunity for food during the day is at 5 and it differs everyday as to what you have (yesterday was 2 rashers of bacon, 2 sausages and half a grilled tomato) medication is also given out with this meal. bedtime is at 10 this is the final time medication is given out, you are still free to go to the smoking area till about 11:30-12pm and the smoking area opens again the next day at 6:30am.
When you are put on the sub-acute ward you get more privileges when you first go onto the ward you still have to wear nighttime attire however you are allowed shoes with laces and a cord round your dressing gown. You may also have your mobile phone and lighter back (should you be a smoker) the sub-acute ward offers activities Monday through to Friday mainly arts and crafts activities but at least it gives you something to do. The ward is mixed like the acute ward so males and females are together and communication between patients is encouraged. The ward is split into different rooms you have six dorms each holding 4 patients and three separate rooms that house a patient in each. There is a dining area and an area with a television (unless your there early chances are your not gonna get anywhere near the remote!) the smoking area in the sub acute ward is a lot larger and has grass which on hot days some patients choose to sunbath on however the fence is a bit lower than the acute ward but you still strand little chance of getting over it. Mealtimes and medication times in the sub-acute are the same as on the acute ward. In the sub-acute your area consists of a bed, small locker and a bit of a wardrobe. You see your doctor twice a week and it is in these meetings that privileges can be changed granted or revoked. The next stage up from having to be in night attire is being able to wear normal daytime clothes and you are allowed a belt, still at this point though you are only allowed to walk around the ward and go no further. The next stage is being allowed to wander round the entire hospital grounds and visit the hospital shop and cafe which is where the opportunity arises to converse with other patients from different sections in the hospital. You are also free to avail of some of the other services that the hospital has to offer including a small library and hairdresser. The final privilege before discharge is being able to leave the hospital grounds for short periods of time and once the doctors feel you are well enough you can also spend a few days at a time at home. After that is discharge from hospital and your free.
I am currently in the sub-acute ward and have access to my laptop which is how i am writing this I'm not allowed to leave the hospital however going the shop and cafe I am allowed.
The staff here are very friendly I have only come across one out of many that I don't get along with because her attitude stinks, in my experience most of the time staff members go out of there way to help you and as I mentioned earlier they don't wear white coats and in fact before I forget they don't use straight jackets anymore either.
I hope this has given you a little taster of what a psychiatric institution is like and I would welcome any reviews or questions on the matter you may have.