Episode 11: Something in the air

As the BBC recently reported, attacks on staff in mental health settings are at an all time high with more than forty-two thousand incidents recorded in the UK. Attacks recorded include serious injuries and one fatal stabbing and many of the people involved report subsequent severe trauma as a consequence of the attacks. The report also notes more than seventeen thousand recorded assaults by patients on other patients in mental health settings in the UK.

Staff in special hospitals develop a finely tuned instinct for potential unrest in the wards. For many patients who are unlikely to be released, or those who wish not to be released or sent to prisons, punishment for wrong doing is not a deterrent and indeed, actively creating havoc may have an element of fun for people with some kinds of attention needing personality disorder. Staff learn to be astute to the signs that there are tensions on the ward, between patients or that a particular individual is in need of additional support. Staff have described it as ‘listening to the hairs rise on the back of my neck’ and as serious injury can be an outcome of such tensions, most wards in secure accommodation have a therapeutic process for diffusing tension and removing stressors.

Hospitals may detain people against their will and under legislative powers but they are still hospitals and caring environments. A great deal of effort is put into providing interesting personal development opportunities. Such activities may be through formal learning and education, to sport, to creative activities such as art and crafts.

In this episode we hear of the great care taken to manage some of the challenges of providing occupational therapy to patients and how even with the greatest of care and scrutiny, some patients find a way around security arrangements with deadly consequences.


Listen to Episode 11:

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