The Student Room Group

Mental HCA

Hi, I’m a psychology masters student hoping to go into clinical psychology and have just been offered a mental hca role. After doing the PMVA training course it has me freaked as to whether I’m cut out for it. How often do you end up restraining patients / getting assaulted?
Reply 1
Original post by ss2502
Hi, I’m a psychology masters student hoping to go into clinical psychology and have just been offered a mental hca role. After doing the PMVA training course it has me freaked as to whether I’m cut out for it. How often do you end up restraining patients / getting assaulted?

Hi!
Do you know what type of ward you will be on? I worked as a HCA on a PICU and was involved in restraining patients pretty much on a daily basis. It was an 8-bed female ward and the patients were very unwell and often too violent or chaotic to be on other general MH wards. It was a very tough job and I had to leave after about 9 months due to a physical health problem being worsened by the physical nature of the role. On the general MH wards, there is less restraining, though you will be expected to do it sometimes if necessary. You get used to it, to be honest.

One thing I will say, though, is that I am very glad I did this role. It prepares you for anything. Every day is different and you learn to respond to risk and de-escalate situations quickly. It was so challenging, but a great first step in your career that will give you fantastic experience.
Reply 2
Original post by Nerol
Hi!
Do you know what type of ward you will be on? I worked as a HCA on a PICU and was involved in restraining patients pretty much on a daily basis. It was an 8-bed female ward and the patients were very unwell and often too violent or chaotic to be on other general MH wards. It was a very tough job and I had to leave after about 9 months due to a physical health problem being worsened by the physical nature of the role. On the general MH wards, there is less restraining, though you will be expected to do it sometimes if necessary. You get used to it, to be honest.

One thing I will say, though, is that I am very glad I did this role. It prepares you for anything. Every day is different and you learn to respond to risk and de-escalate situations quickly. It was so challenging, but a great first step in your career that will give you fantastic experience.

Hi, I have had my first few shifts at a CAMHS ward and loved it! Felt really safe and it’s been so interesting, the other place I could get sent to is a forensic unit with two male wards and one female. It’s definitely the forensic one I’m most worried about just from a safety point of view. Do you have any experience in that?
Original post by ss2502
Hi, I have had my first few shifts at a CAMHS ward and loved it! Felt really safe and it’s been so interesting, the other place I could get sent to is a forensic unit with two male wards and one female. It’s definitely the forensic one I’m most worried about just from a safety point of view. Do you have any experience in that?


I used to work as a HCA on medium and low secure forensic units and though it may be daunting, you get used to it pretty quickly. A lot of it is about staying vigilant and remembering the potential risks, things like never going into a patient's bedroom alone and always getting a handover from staff when coming onto the ward. You are bound to be working with some really experienced, highly trained staff who can identify when a situation is escalating and the use of personal alarms means that people can respond to an incident fairly quickly. I've been assaulated before and it's not something you can ever really forgot but you're much more likely to face verbal abuse rather than anything physical.

Restraining is something you will inevitably have to deal with at some point but there's nothing shameful about saying you don't feel comfortable and letting someone else take over as you're settling in, no one expects a new starter to be doing floor restraints on their first day. I think I speak for many when saying that, when the time does come to restrain, it's almost an automatic response that you don't really think about, you just do what you can to keep everyone safe. I've worked in forensics for two and a half years and still get that racing heart, fight or flight response kicking in when the alarms are activated and I'm responding to a ward but I don't think that ever goes.
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 4
Original post by bones-mccoy
I used to work as a HCA on medium and low secure forensic units and though it may be daunting, you get used to it pretty quickly. A lot of it is about staying vigilant and remembering the potential risks, things like never going into a patient's bedroom alone and always getting a handover from staff when coming onto the ward. You are bound to be working with some really experienced, highly trained staff who can identify when a situation is escalating and the use of personal alarms means that people can respond to an incident fairly quickly. I've been assaulated before and it's not something you can ever really forgot but you're much more likely to face verbal abuse rather than anything physical.

Restraining is something you will inevitably have to deal with at some point but there's nothing shameful about saying you don't feel comfortable and letting someone else take over as you're settling in, no one expects a new starter to be doing floor restraints on their first day. I think I speak for many when saying that, when the time does come to restrain, it's almost an automatic response that you don't really think about, you just do what you can to keep everyone safe. I've worked in forensics for two and a half years and still get that racing heart, fight or flight response kicking in when the alarms are activated and I'm responding to a ward but I don't think that ever goes.

This is genuinely so helpful thanks so much! I definitely want to try it on the wards for experience and my own personal development.

I’ve had bad experiences in my past care job with a male alcoholic so feel I’m likely affected by the worry of it happening again. Only one way to find out and it’s reassuring that I’d get a lot of support for my first few shifts. Thanks again.
Original post by ss2502
This is genuinely so helpful thanks so much! I definitely want to try it on the wards for experience and my own personal development.

I’ve had bad experiences in my past care job with a male alcoholic so feel I’m likely affected by the worry of it happening again. Only one way to find out and it’s reassuring that I’d get a lot of support for my first few shifts. Thanks again.


You will definitely learn a lot! It's been the most valuable experience both professionally and personally.

It's understandable that you're wary about working with potentially unstable individuals, particularly considering what you've experienced before, but like you say, the only way you will know is by taking a shift on those wards and finding out. I hope everything goes well for you :smile:
I agree with what Bones and Nerol have written as that gels with my own ward experience. The things I would also add are that ward culture and team dynamics are really important in making staff feel secure and able to do their job. Training, supervision and general staff support are also things to keep an eye out for if offered.

IME if the organisation values its staff and fosters a positive culture, restraint and coercion is generally less as service users are treated with dignity and respect so often don't need to act out as much. When I supervise ward teams I usually encourage teams to consider aggression and other unwanted behaviours as a form of communication, so we will often do team formulations around what the service user is trying to communicate and how we can reduce aggression/ understand what works with the patient. This is especially useful when people are in under section, so there are major issues around power, threat, meaning and control going on for them.

Ward work can be daunting, but really good material to reflect and grow on. Looking back, I wouldn't change those experiences for anything.

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending