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Ken and Gina

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Sutherland Hospital Acute Mental health


June 2013

My first visit to the Mental Health Ward came be quite daunting, I was given a guided tour of the sub acute ward, and then the acute ward. This ward is separated from the sub acute one by a locked door. You can not gain entry into any of these wards without a swipe card as these doors are secure.

Visitors cannot gain entry until they have been searched for prohibited items. There are closed circuit cameras in all the hallways, TV rumpus room and dining area. The nurses station is behind secure glass with locked doors.

I was also shown the Mental Rehabilitation Ward, and as I have discovered over the years this is the most difficult ward to visit as it is hard to get the clients involved and to have a meaningful conversation. Clients on this ward can be there for a number of months. My visits usually last between 60 to 80 minutes between all the wards of the Mental Health Unit.  

Staff are required to carry a personal alarm whilst out in these wards. Each week when I visit, I always have a staff member on the ward with me. At no stage have I felt threatened.  Clients in the acute and sub acute wards vary in the period of their stay and it could be a couple of days or weeks.  Also some people may be heavily medicated and stay in their rooms. At a conservative estimate I would say over a period of 3 years I would have met between 1,300 – 1,500 clients. Some of these clients I have met on more than one occasion because mental health can be a revolving door at the unit.

Over the years I have met a mixture of people in this unit when this is not a good stage of their life with their health. And hopefully we have bought a smile to their face to brighten up their day.  

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