How to Help
This post is about how and why to be involved with the care of your loved one, when he or she is being treated in a Psychiatric Hospital. The idea is to create a presence of family oversight, involvement and contribution that will be noticed by your loved one’s treatment team while also helping your loved one to feel supported through his or her recovery process. The why may be seem obvious to many. If you are able to connect with your loved one’s treatment care team, you will be able to contribute valuable information that will likely benefit your loved one by ensuring the best care. Likewise, when a team is aware of your involvement and interest, they will have an increased awareness about your loved one, and will even possibly make a more concerted effort to learn about your loved ones needs, and better be able to treat their symptoms. Your involvement could even prevent possible abuse or neglect. Your active involvement demonstrates to the treatment team a level of stability and support within the family structure that will help motivate them to develop treatment plans that will effectively move toward discharge and integration into the community.
Below are three things that you can do to create a presence family oversight, involvement and contribution to care that will help your loved one recover faster, increase protection from abuse or neglect, and facilitate an effective treatment plan that will likely move your loved one toward discharge and reentry into a community setting.
1. Visit often and regularly. Contact your psychiatric hospital and ask them what their process and procedure is for visitors. Most psychiatric hospitals have their own specific individual policies, but they are also congruent with standardized process and procedures. If you look up the name of the psychiatric hospital, whether it is a state hospital, or one that is affiliated with your insurance etc… they will be happy to tell you the visitation times, and the rules. Most psychiatric hospitals will check you for contraband items that are not allowed on the premises. Most are also happy to send you a list of what is and what is not allowed on the premises. You will also be able to find out what your love one is allowed to receive from you (clothing, snacks, etc).
2. Find out who the contact person for your Interdisciplinary Treatment Team is. Most psychiatric hospitals follow the model if IDT (Interdisciplinary Treatment Teams). This is a treatment team that includes at minimum, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, and a nurse. Your loved one will be assigned to an IDT. You are usually allowed to also be on this IDT and you are allowed to attend IDT meetings. Show up. This shows your loved one that you are committed to them, and that you are involved. You will be able to see who your loved one is receiving treatment from, and what the process for your loved one looks like; and you will also be able to contribute your opinions and ideas. You will also be able to show your “presence” and develop rapport with your loved one’s IDT. This is very helpful in so many ways as I described above. As part of your loved one’s IDT, you may also be involved in discharge planning. It may be that you have a support system that will greatly enhance your loved one’s re entry into family and community living; the IDT should be aware of this as well, and this additional support can even be written into the discharge planning if appropriate. Just a note: IDT is somewhat of a “universal” and generic term. Different institutions who adopt this model of treatment might use different acronyms, so don’t be confused. Just be aware that your loved one is likely being treated by a team that consists of several different professionals all providing individualized and integrated care to your loved one.
3. Ask your loved one if they are creating or revising a Wellness and Recovery Plan, an Action Plan, or a Relapse and Prevention Plan. If the communication between you and your loved one is good, ask if you are, or should be a part of this plan. Let them know what you feel you have to offer, and negotiate your role in helping him or her in her recovery and maintenance on future recovery. Your loved may or may not be ready to have this discussion. Don’t
push if he or she is not ready. Making the gesture and letting him or her know of your willingness is enough to help him or her feel supported, and this is the goals. Feeling love, wanted and supported has enormous potential in helping your loved one recover and or to experience a good quality of life.
Photo by Mr. Moment