I was doing some research recently and in one of the clinical papers I was reading it stated:
Studies show that about 26% of suicides are found within the mental health system. Out of these, 14% commit suicide during hospitalization…..
It went on to say that suicide is difficult to predict or anticipate. I agree it most certainly is but with the years of observation I have had at Mental Health hospitals and units I think part of the problem is the nurses station and the fact that nurses don’t leave it.
I have seen almost every nurse on several units sitting in the nurses station for their entire shift. Patients are actually treated like they are bothering the nurse when they come and ask for something. Often nurses state they have too much paperwork to be interacting with patients all the time….what about some of the time? The only time I ever spent at the nurses station was to do charting. Any other time I was finding a way to help and care for my patients. How do you write anything about how a patient is feeling and how their day was if the extent of the conversation is a passing “Here’s your medication, how are you?”
A patient is much less likely to give you any indication they are suicidal or upset when they don’t feel a connection with their nurse. I have the same complaint about many of the physical health units as well but it is particularly critical on a psychiatric floor for patients to feel comfortable talking to their nurse. If the nurse is sitting in the nurses station on Facebook or laughing with other staff about the fun they had on their vacation and what they are doing on the weekend, a patient is not as likely to open up as they would to a nurse sitting talking to them or playing a game or even just watching television together.
I understand that hospitals are understaffed and many nurses feel overworked. That is because hospitals are too focused on getting the latest hospital technology to run tests and out shine other hospitals with cutting edge technology….much of which wouldn’t be needed if we would take care of the patient, lower their stress level and invest time in helping them heal and recover from their illness.
Florence Nightingale must be turning in her grave at what nursing and Health care has become. It may be focused on finding the diagnosis and fast turn over rates but it has totally forgotten about the Care and actually caring for the patient.
I know every hospital claims and advertises and promotes the appearance of “Patient centered care” but on hundreds of hospital units in the province of Ontario that is not what is happening. Patients are being left sitting or laying staring at the wall because they can’t afford the outrageous prices of internet, television and phone in the hospital and the nurses refuse to interact beyond a five minute conversation as they hand out pills.
If we want people to recover we need to change the way we care for them and actually show we care. We need to change the focus of education for nurses and healthcare staff to teach them how to actually feel and show compassion, to provide care and to be more than a pill despenser sitting behind glass.
I wish I could have a day with the nurses of the units I’ve visited and the many more I haven’t so I could remind them that nursing is meant to be about caring, comforting and helping the patient recover from whatever brought them into the hospital not about punching a time card and hiding in the nurses station for 11.5 out of the 12 hours you are there.