City, State/Province, Country: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Number of Stars: 2
Comment: I must first mention that my stay in this ward was involuntary, which may affect the way I felt about it. The quality of my stay here was incredibly poor according not only to my standards, but those of others I stayed with, and family members who visited. The admission process is easy enough (via schedule), and the psychiatrists are quite helpful.
The ward itself is designed for 72 hour holds, and as such is very small (6-8 beds). However designed, I was not kept for 72 hours, but for two weeks, while others were held up to a month. In addition to this long stay, at the time I was also underage and told that the ward was for adults only (despite there being a suitable children and adolescents ward in the hospital. Official visitors during my stay also told me that this was unacceptable, but were unable to help.
Receiving medication is compulsory, as anything else is considered non-compliance. Anti-psychotics are pretty much standard on arrival for sedation and continued treatment until they rule out psychosis. We were constantly threatened with being ‘sent upstairs’ (to a high dependency unit) if we were non-compliant, behaving erratically, or found with contraband. Involuntary sedation also happened regularly, and one person who stayed there at the same time as me received involuntary Electro-Convulsive Therapy.
The staff were generally nice, though almost all of them kept very strict rule over the ward (as expected), with the exception of a couple of staff who were just downright rude. In addition, the staff were severely overworked and underpaid (as are all nursing staff in the state) and often apathetic towards patients needs. Don’t get me wrong, some of the staff were genuinely lovely and actually interacted with patients instead of staring at us through the fish bowl.
There is no group therapy, nor is there individual therapy available. Its not a place of recovery, it’s a place of seclusion and detainment.
The ward has very, very little entertainment (especially for a longer stay). We had one tv to share, some sheets of colouring in and crayons, and were allowed to play games with the permission and under close supervision by staff (we were told we were lucky to have even that). The food was gross, exactly what you’d expect of general hospital food.
The look and feel of the ward itself also has lots to be desired. There is one shared room with four people staying in it and 2-4 single rooms. I was lucky enough to have a single room as I was underage. There are two small bathrooms. Apart from that there is a communal area (no bigger than my own lounge room) and a small ‘outdoor’ area. I write in inverted commas as it was really a cage with some small holes in it in which air and cigarette smoke was let in. Including this area the ward is also completely non-smoking (which drove some people absolutely mad). Windows in the ward are either frosted or barred, so a full view of the outside is not seen for so long.
Staying here was an awful experience in my life, the only saving grace was that every now and then a nurse was kind and understanding, and family and friends were allowed to visit for about 2 hours a day.
Type of program: Inpatient