The impact of a night confinement policy on patients in a high secure inpatient mental health service.

Chu, Simon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8921-4942, McNeill, Kimberley, Wright, Karen Margaret orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0693-7294, Hague, Anthony and Wilkins, Tracy (2015) The impact of a night confinement policy on patients in a high secure inpatient mental health service. Journal of Forensic Practice, 17 (1). pp. 21-30. ISSN 2050-8794

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Purpose – From 2012, all high-secure forensic mental health services in England began operating a policy of confining patients to their locked bedrooms overnight to increase service efficiency and reduce costs. The purpose of this paper is to assess the views of staff and patients concerning the policy and examine the specific impact of the policy on patients.

Design/methodology/approach – Measures of patients’ sleep hygiene, patients’ behaviour, ward atmosphere, engagement with therapy and adverse incidents were taken both before and after the night confinement (NC) policy was implemented. Both patients and staff also expressed their views of the impact of the NC policy.

Findings – Results provide converging evidence that the impact of the NC policy on patients is negligible. There were no consistent negative effects of confining patients overnight. Rather, patients and staff were broadly positive about the impact that the practice had on patients.

Practical implications – Confining patients to locked bedrooms overnight does not exert any consistent influence, positive or negative, on patients’ sleep hygiene, behaviour or engagement with therapy, and patients expressed a broadly positive view of the practice of NC. Thus, a NC policy may have a contribution to make to the provision an effective high-secure mental health service.

Originality/value – The study provides convincing evidence that secure inpatient mental health services that are considering the adoption of a NC policy may do so without fear of a negative impact on patients.

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