I have an admission to make: mental health is a hard area for me to work in. Currently I work in a fairly busy emergency department attached to a PECC (Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre) and both adult and children’s mental health units. Therefore, we regularly see mental health cases in our beds. Oftentimes they are agitated, maybe high on drugs, and a clear danger to themselves or others in the department.
As an emergency department we do have some physical locks on doors to prevent egress, but our layout is very open to provide for easy access and movement throughout the ward as our work entails. So when patients become aggressive our options to calm the patients down and keep them and others safe is limited. But I also see the concerns about the use of restraint methods and the potential harm they can do. It is only a ‘quick fix’ which takes care of the here-and-now without treating the underlying problem. The use of chemical restraint also delays treatment as the patients are often needing to rid themselves of the medication before being seen.
Nine news has aired a story today that a review is being undertaken about the use of restraints and seclusion for mental health patients. I applaud this as I think we need to have experts look at what can and needs to be done to help while providing a safe healing environment.
I don’t think that we will ever be able to rid ourselves of the need for some restraint methods in dealing with patients. There are times where nurses and doctors need to intervene to allow for a safe environment. However, we need to get it right. Minimize interventions to allow for maximum treatment while providing for a safe environment.