Removing patient identity and responsibility

Kirsty MacDonald writes.

Within the NHS we have a wonderful culture of care. However, I wonder if we often remove responsibility from our patients and thus reduce their identity while they are in hospital.

Our patients are not expected to participate in activities of daily living, and are often actively discouraged from this. They are not required to cook meals, clean their room or wash their clothes. Obviously, some patients are in our care as they are not capable of completing these tasks, but what are we doing to those who are?

I have recently returned from a placement in India with SLV Global and attended the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences. I was overwhelmed to see patients participating in daily activities such as cooking and cleaning, often completing these tasks along with their families, as family members live within the hospital campus while their loved ones are admitted. Patients are also given opportunities to engage in work – earning a small wage, while gaining a routine, sense of purpose and self and developing team working and social skills.

I wonder if, within the NHS, we need to learn from our mental health colleagues in ‘developing’ countries? After all, it is no secret that activity, inclusion and identity encourage recovery and positive mental health.  

Kirsty MacDonald
Assistant Psychologist
Older Adult Mental Health Service
Royal Cornhill Hospital
Aberdeen

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