Who experiences seclusion? An examination of demographics and duration in a public acute inpatient mental health service [2017]

Restrictive interventions such as seclusion may occur during an acute mental health crisis. Such interventions are experienced by people as traumatic and counter to recovery. The current study aimed to investigate the use of seclusion and who was secluded amongst patients presenting with psychotic symptomology. All acute inpatient admissions were examined across a 12-month period January–December 2013. Electronic and paper records were accessed and audited for all 655 admissions. There were 91 admissions that included a seclusion and 200 seclusion events. There were 79 unique patients who experienced seclusion. For those experiencing seclusion: two-thirds were male, 49% were either homeless or had no fixed abode, 32% received case management in the community prior to their inpatient stay, and 56% were unemployed or not in the workforce. The median and mode duration of seclusion was 4 h. By understanding seclusion interventions better, changes can be made to enhance practice. This descriptive research into seclusion has clarified the demographics of who is most likely to experience seclusion, for how long, and the implications for reducing restrictive interventions. How the social work role could contribute to reforms to protect and enhance the rights and well-being of marginalized members of our communities, at their most vulnerable, is considered.

Jacinta Chavulak BA, BSW (Hons) & Melissa Petrakis BA, BSW, MSW(Research), PhD

Social Work in Health Care, Volume 56, 2017 – Issue 6