What are comfort rooms for psychiatric patients?
When you think of comfort rooms for psychiatric patients, what springs to mind? A padded cell, a multi sensory room, a media room, with a TV screen? Under legislation, a persons’ human rights must be observed, which includes the right to access to media, ie. a television screen.
The term ‘patient’ refers to a person who is under the care of a professional medical body, and whose well being is of a high priority and in this context, it refers to a person who has a psychiatric issue; this type of person may be unstable, temperamental with violent outbursts or withdrawn – and every evaluation in between.
A national safety focus is to reduce seclusion and restraint within these medical facilities, many studies have been carried out on effective and ineffective methods of caring for vulnerable people. One of the findings was that a multi-sensory or comfort rooms are beneficial places of safety, relaxation and are therapeutic – all contributing to an pleasant environment for detainees, staff and visitors. These rooms have reduced the need for seclusion or restraints and have demonstrated less stress and physical abuse towards other people. Not long a go, it was not recognized how important a comfort room is for a psychiatric patient, but the soft colour scheme, quiet music, comfortable furniture and visual aids in a pilot study has significantly reduced the need for seclusion and restraints. The ‘before and after’ the redesigning of comfort rooms has been studied with pleasing results; calmer patients and less stressed staff.
Comfort rooms essential for patient safety.
Unfortunately, it is still an occurrence for deaths and injuries to happen to members of staff and self harm to patients themselves. One feature to look at, to eliminate make shift weapons, is enclosing the television screen in a protective non-loop or anti-ligature housing unit. By limiting access to the glass TV screen, the threat of broken glass being used as a knife is a minimal danger. The TV housing units have a polycarbonate viewing window which allows clear access to the program being broadcast. All the wiring is hidden neatly out of sight, again eliminating the potential dangers of suicide, and gives an aesthetically pleasing room. One of the main features is the sloping design of the enclosure (DOOH International has the intellectual property rights on this design). No material or other kind of ligature can be attached to the TV enclosure which would create a self harming means. Health care professionals will suggest appropriate programs to play on the comfort room television screen; soothing nature programs, educational and informative content and calming transmissions.
Comfort rooms for psychiatric patients is a voluntarily space, where clients can self-manage their suffering and other medical and caring staff can promote a healthy independence, with less stress for all, in an positive environment. On the other hand, a comfort room should not be seen as a seclusion area, punishment or reward or a time out space.