Yesterday (17 January), there was a fascinating tweet chat about the use of social media on psychiatric inpatient wards, hosted by We Nurses (@WeNurses). Patients, friends, and family, interested people and a wide range of healthcare professionals discussed such topics as the use of social media by psychiatric inpatients and what restrictions, if any, should be placed on patients. It got me thinking about what had happened to me on ward when I was detained. Here’s my personal take on the issue.
When I entered the tweet chat, I recounted an example of being denied access to social media:
“Once, when I was in my bedspace on ward, I set up my little camera to record a piece to post to facebook. At that moment, the rapid response team arrived, a crew of 6, to pin me down and inject me. They grabbed my camera and took it away. They said they didn’t want to be filmed restraining & injecting me as some people would use it as porn!!”
It was a shock at the time to have my property confiscated in that way. However, as I learned as time on ward passed, this was representative of the way the ward was managed.
It was only when I tweeted yesterday about this camera incident and then read others’ responses that I realised how bizarre a thing this for staff to have said. And how unjustified it had been to summarily confiscate my camera.
It would be interesting to know if the hospital had a policy around use of social media; or whether it was something they hadn’t thought of at the time and staff were just having to make it up on the hoof. I suspect the latter was the case and that patient access to social media was not considered important.
Patients in yesterday’s tweet chat said they found access to social media to be a vital support and a lifeline to keeping in contact with friends and family. Like many of us, they used it in their daily lives before admission, and naturally wanted to continue doing so on ward. In fact, when on ward, keeping contact with the outside world felt more important.
Some healthcare professionals, on the other hand, expressed concern that patients who were vulnerable should not be allowed access to social media in case they breached confidentiality – for instance, by posting about other patients online. It was pointed out that, whilst healthcare professionals had a duty of confidentiality, patients did not. And that a patient should not be have their property confiscated or be deprived of access to social media unless specifically accessed as lacking capacity in that regard.
Quite right too. Just because you are on a psychiatric ward does not mean you suddenly lose all rights to be treated like an adult. Or at least it should not do so. If patients on surgical wards are encouraged to use their iPads and smart phones, why not those on psychiatric wards? As I said during the tweet chat:
Even prisoners locked up by the police get a phone call home don’t they? Or is that only in TV cop shows? It certainly didn’t apply to me when I was detained on ward. Removing my phone deprived me of my means of communication and isolated me from the outside world in a place which was already shut away from the world.
I also tweeted:
“In my experience, everything was done to control & silence patients. The answer to any question was always “no”. The cautious approach prevailed. Patients were not put first.”
To find out about the broader discussion, I’d highly recommend reading the web links below.
Here are web links to pages that form the background to the discussion:
- Link to my Storify story about the tweet chat, including mine and others’ tweets
- Chaos and Control blogger Little Feet’s (@chaosandcontrol) blog post, “Inpatient blogging: 363 days on“, which started the debate off (27 December 2012)
- Victoria Betton (@VictoriaBetton) and Little Feet’s subsequent joint blot post, “Pros and perils of social media in a mental health inpatient setting” (4 January)
- Victoria Betton‘s blog post “Has your NHS Trust got an inpatient social media policy?” (16 January)
- We Nurses chat summary plus link to Storify story about the tweet chat (18 January)