Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On 'Being Nuts'

As American Journalist Hunter S Thompson (1937-2005) wrote:

"...If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up. ..."

One thing about working in psychiatric wards for decades, you quickly became able to spot those around you who were crazy - including your fellow employees. You soon realised that these were all the smart ones - they knew things were not right in their world but they were on the inside. They were the ones getting treatment while all the other suckers stumbled around on the outside, following their mundane lives and hoping something good was going to come from it.

I always held the philosophy that if I, or any of my staff, got physically injured through our interactions with residents than we were really to blame 'cos we got careless and dropped our guard. In near thirty years I only got hurt/injured by residents twice and in both cases it was my fault, 'cos I forgot the rules and dropped my guard.

We were taught, early in the piece, the 10 Commandments:

1. Always try work in pairs (how I met Rhonda LOL! ).

2. Always check the Med Charts when you came on and note what ‘extra’ medications the high risk residents were ordered.

3. Dispense your ‘extra’ medications for high risks and leave in the locked treatment room – never try to get them ready in an emergency, you will be too rattled and spill it everywhere!

4. Always back-up your partner, never leave them alone or exposed to risk.

5. Never walk straight through a door into a residents room/area. Always approach a doorway and move sideways through it and always towards the most open space in that room/area.

6. Never stand within reaching distance of a resident and if you need to make a restraining move, step to their 'on-side' and take hold of their wrist, move behind them, place your free hand behind their shoulder and apply an 'armbar' hold. (We practiced it, regularly!)

7. Talk quietly, modulate your tone of voice, never make sudden moves.

8. Always (ALWAYS) keep your hands down - at or below your waist.

9. Keep your back to a wall and keep a clear space between you and the nearest exit.

10. Know when your meal break is due and make sure you get off the ward for it!

Feel free to add your thoughts on 'Being Crazy' - try starting with a 'craziness' quote.


John Gray said...

good post john....
i ONLY HAD TWO black eyes given to me by a psychiatric patient..... she was 80 and senile and as I knelt down to put on her slippers she shouted "NAZI! AND punched me in both eyes

John said...

He! he! - She had obvious previous experience with your kind of care! LOL! :)

Jabacue said...

I worked on a kids psych ward/hospital for two years and these all sound very familiar. Wished I had been aware of these when I started!

John said...

I was at the Annual mental health Nurses Conference in Hobart earlier this year and, on talking to participants, particularly mental health students, I was amazed that these things wern't "Gospel" and being taught. Most they got was a day of in-service discussion and role plays on 'defensive techniques'.

May make this the keystone of my delivery for next years conference! Disguise it inside some human interactions stuff! LOL!

Gill - That British Woman said...

My thought:

Make sure you are well paid for doing that type of job!!