The awesome Jonny Benjamin MBE serves up 10 fab tips on making mental health inpatient admissions happier
1. Remind patients that they will recover
We can never hear it enough times!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Whether or not medically related, questions lead to conversations which undoubtedly helps to build a connection between nurses and patients.
Even a question such as “What book are you reading?” can help in this way.
3. Encourage us to ask questions too
I’ve sometimes been too afraid to ask simple questions such as, “What are the meal times?”, “Where can I find…?” or “I don’t want to bother you; I know how busy you are..!”
Some gentle encouragement, though, especially when a patient is first admitted to hospital, can go a long way to making them feel at ease.
4. Avoid too much terminology
Hospitals can daunt enough without all the medical jargon that often comes with treatment. I like to understand why I’m having a blood test, for example, or what a new medication will do, in the simplest terms possible.
5. Visitors welcome?
It’s useful to know when and where visitors are welcome in the hospital, but it’s not something we’re always told about when being admitted.
6. Getting to know you
Personally, I like to get to know the staff around me, especially if I’m going to be an inpatient for some time. My favourite nurse in my first mental health admission was called Karolina. She would often talk to me about her career, family, and hopes and dreams for the future. I would always look forward to our regular chats and finding out more about Karolina. It was a distraction from talking about me all the time as we usually tend to have to do when we’re patients!
7. The night shift
This is a tricky one – checks on patients when they’re sleeping at night are often necessary-but sometimes I’ve been awoken during this time by lights switching on or banging doors. If staff can minimise disruption to sleep however they can it would be hugely appreciated! I for one need as much beauty sleep as I can get!
Being discharged can be just as daunting as being admitted to hospital, depending on where the patient is going and what state they’re in. Sometimes I’ve been discharged from hospital with barely a conversation about what will happen to me next. Once again, some simple words of reassurance and encouragement from staff that I will be ok can put me at ease as I prepare to move on.
I’ll never forget a really tough day I was having in hospital once when a nurse gave me the broadest, warmest smile while I was walking down the corridor.
The smallest gestures really do make the biggest difference.
10. Look after yourself too
Words can’t express how grateful we are as patients for the care you provide to us when we are most in need.
But it’s just as important that you look after yourself, as well.
I’ve met several staff over the years who have burnt out after putting others needs before theirs for such a long time.
There is only so long someone can do this for. We’re all human.
So please continue to do the wonderful job you already do, but remember to add some time in for self-care regularly too.
And, most importantly of all, from myself and so many more, a great big THANK-YOU!!
Mental health campaigner, writer, filmmaker & public speaker