After I qualified as a staff nurse in mental health' I got a job in a prestigious psychiatric hospital in North Yorkshire. The hospital had only seven wards which were all situated within a beautiful Regency style building in it's own grounds. The wards were carpeted and sympathetically decorated in a period style and their day rooms filled with comfortable sofas and occasional furniture.
It was a pleasant place in which to work.
I was placed on the mother and baby unit , where seriously ill post partum women and their offspring were admitted for treatment, but most of the other wards catered for acutely mentally ill patients, patients with cognitive impairments and people suffering severe epilepsy..
Staffing generally was very good , but when there was an emergency situation on a ward then an alarm bell would sound and each ward would send a " runner" to help with whatever problem was afoot. No wards were ever locked.
I was telling some of the junior staff this story last night whilst on a break, as a sort of lesson of how Intensive Care is one of the few places in nursing that is probably safest from assault and injury ....things in the early 1980s could be very different!
I remember one night at the hospital when at around 4am the alarm bell sounded. I was one of five nurses who responded to the call,
The emergency was on the epilepsy assessment ward , a ward staffed by both general and mental health nurses. On duty were three nurses. A heavily pregnant girl, a young staff nurse just out of training and an experienced male staff nurse. All three had been sitting in what was essentially a glass box which overlooked the dormitory of patients on two sides.
Out of no where, a powerfully built male patient had suddenly become agitated and very confused and had hurled himself at the windows of the nurses station. He shattered the glass with his body, and like an animal he went for the nurses inside. The male nurse hit the emergency buzzer then bolted out of the office to get help, but as he ran, the office door bounced shut , locking the two women inside. The pregnant nurse, with great presence of mind clambered over a desk and jumped through a window into the grounds to safety but unfortunately the patient caught hold of the young female staff nurse before she could flee.
By the time we arrived on the scene a couple of minutes later, the patient had fractured her jaw and had broken her arm as well as biting her badly on the side of the face.
This was the only time , I have been truly frightened at work Over the years I have been personally abused many times by patients and relatives alike. I have been screamed at, shouted at, spat at and in one case threatened with a broken teapot! but this situation with a brain damaged patient and a young helpless staffnuse still lingers long in the mind.
A scary story to share with a group of nurses in the wee small hours of the morning eh?