How does voluntary admission work?
Voluntary admission to a psychiatric hospital or unit happens in much the same way as admission to a general hospital.
Usually a consultant psychiatrist makes an arrangement with the nurse in charge of the unit that a person be admitted to hospital. Where new people presenting to the service for the first time or self referrals go to the Emergency Department. They are assessed there and a decision is made whether a person is to be admitted to hospital.
Who can refer me?
Your GP or consultant can refer you to a psychiatric hospital or unit. In an emergency situation you can self refer through the Emergency Department.
How does involuntary admission work?
The Mental Health Act 2001 allows involuntary admission to hospital, but strict procedures must be followed for this to happen. The Acute Unit in St James's hospital follows these procedures. These are outlined in “Your Guide to the Mental Health Act 2001”.
Who will I meet first?
Initially you may need to attend the Emergency Department so that a comprehensive medical assessment is done so that we’re sure that we do not miss or neglect any physical illness that may be present (if your doctor is happy that you have no medical difficulties you can go straight to the ward, but if we are in any way unsure about your medical condition you will need to be properly checked out)
You will be met on the ward by your team nurse who will complete your nursing admission, show you around the ward and explain the ward routines.
What should I bring?
Examples of what you might want to bring are: pyjamas, a dressing gown, slippers, toiletries (tooth brush, razor and foam). Bring only what you really need. Leave all valuables at home as the hospital cannot take responsibility for your personal belongings.
Your team nurse will go through your personal belongings when you are admitted to make sure that there are no hidden risks to you or anybody on the unit. As safety is a primary concern certain items might be kept with nurses. These items include belts, razors (or any items that could be used to harm yourself or other patients.
Out of respect for your privacy and that of others on the unit no device with picture recording capacity is permitted on the unit e.g. camera phones, cam corders.
Can I leave when I want?
Unlike patients in general hospitals, you are not always completely free to leave psychiatric care when you wish.
If you are an involuntary patient you can leave the unit only with agreement of your consultant psychiatrist.
In general voluntary patients can come and go when they wish. However, if a doctor or nurse believes that you are too ill to go home, they may decide that it is in your best interest to stay.
If this happens they can insist that you stay in hospital for up to 24 hours so that you can meet and be examined by your own consultant psychiatrist and a second consultant psychiatrist. This process is further explained in “Your Guide to the Mental Health Act 2001”
What if I have views on my treatment?
You will be given an opportunity to express your views when you are admitted and during your treatment. We will take your views taken into account as far as is practicable. When decisions are being made, due regard will be given to your needs to respect your rights to dignity, bodily integrity, privacy and autonomy. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss your concerns with your team nurse each day.