‘I don't want to be here but I feel safe’: Referral and admission to a child and adolescent psychiatric inpatient unit: The young person's perspective

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Abstract

Early and appropriate intervention can assist children and young people manage their mental illness and prevent it becoming a long-term condition. However, satisfaction with mental health services can influence the level of engagement individuals are willing to participate in beyond the time of the initial contact or hospitalization. A qualitative design was used to identify and understand the experiences of the admission process for young people referred to the sole psychiatric inpatient unit in one Australian state for children up to the age of 18 years. Eleven young people participated in semistructured interviews that were audiotaped, transcribed, and coded. Interview data were examined through thematic analysis. Satisfaction with the inpatient experience was influenced by whether or not young people experienced a sense of connection with staff or other patients on the ward. The ability of nursing staff in identifying and catering to the individual needs of young people in their care facilitated feelings of safety, security, and acceptance, and contributed to the young person's desire to remain engaged in treatment post-discharge. This research supports the shift towards perceiving patient satisfaction as a separate entity from service delivery and quality, with some participants able to voice dissatisfaction about the lack of services, while reporting overall satisfaction with the inpatient experience.

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