Forensic Occupational Therapy and PPE
Forensic mental health services refer to those that provide care and treatment for mentally disordered offenders, that is, people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system, and who require care and treatment in a secure hospital for their mental illness or disorder.
Within forensic mental health occupational therapy has become a well established component of the multidisciplinary team and is a core part of service provision.
Much of my experience during my training, my employment as a HCSW whilst I was training, and now I’m a qualified Occupational Therapist has been within forensic services. From locked rehab to low, medium and high secure hospitals (I have experienced them all!) , working with males and females with a variety of diagnosis; mental illness, personality disorders and learning disabilities, all with offending histories, very complex backgrounds and experience of occupational injustice.
I currently work in a medium secure unit within the women’s service, which provides a standard medium secure care pathway and an enhanced medium secure care pathway. I will be taking my first student in a few weeks time which has got me thinking about my experience as a second year student within a high secure hospital, the experience of others that I know as students in secure services, and so has raised some questions for me regarding students and forensic occupational therapy.
I remember initially feeling very anxious about my placement, which was actually my first ever experience in mental health. I was an 18 (or maybe 19) year old, entering a high secure hospital to be assessed putting the ‘theory’ I’d learnt at uni into practice. I wondered what would the environment be like, how would I manage my feelings working with people who had committed horrific crimes, what would be expected of me, would I be safe, how did the OT process work in a place like this, if I wasn’t allowed to tell patients things about myself how would I build up any relationships…. Now I’m on the other side of the table, planning an induction and wondering how best to impart my knowledge, support and provide an excellent placement experience for my Student.
There are so many learning opportunities within forensic mental health and I would urge all students to be aware of this area of practice! I am happy to talk about my experiences further with anyone who is interested. I also have a few ideas for other forensic related #OTalks potentially in the future…
Questions To Consider:
1) How does university prepare students for placements in mental health settings? Could this be improved, if so how?
2) How may the experience and learning differ between placements within secure services and acute mental health units?
3) How can secure settings be as student friendly as possible and ensure a positive learning environment?
4) What do you think would make a successful Student OT within forensic mental health?
5) What do you think would make a successful Educator within forensic mental health?
6) Should PPE in forensic services be elective?
7) Do any other OTs out there in forensic services have any resources which may be especially useful for a student on placement within this setting?
Lauren Hodgetts (@Lauren_OT)
Post Chat Updates:
PDF Transcript: #OTalk 5 April 2016