Full-and Part-Time Hospitalization

The severity of schizophrenia as an illness is indicated by the fact that it sends more people to the hospital than almost any other illness, according to the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. Fortunately, hospital stays in psychiatric facilities average less than two weeks. If hospitalization is recommended, research different facilities and programs.

Questions to Ask when Visiting a Prospective Psychiatric Hospital

  • How will you be kept informed of the patient's progress?

  • How often will the patient see a psychiatrist?

  • Who else will be working closely with the patient?

  • What programs are offered?

  • What kinds of recreation are offered?

  • How many staff members are on-site during the day?

  • How many staff members are on-site in the evening and overnight?

  • The answers you receive should satisfy you that the person you care for will receive thorough and appropriate treatment. If you are not satisfied with what you learn, keep looking for a more suitable facility.

    Benefits of Hospitalization

    If living at home is not an option, a patient may receive better care in a hospital before other living arrangements, such as a group home, can be found. If a patient is in the midst of a psychotic crisis, the treatment in a good hospital can provide immediate relief. After the medical staff has helped the patient overcome the crisis, he can begin to recover in an environment free of responsibilities and major outside stresses.

    Alert

    Hospitals vary in quality. Some offer more services than others. Compare facilities you can afford. If you are familiar with the hospital you will use before you need it, both you and the patient may experience less stress if hospitalization becomes necessary.

    The patient's psychiatrist will direct the care he receives in the hospital just as a cardiologist will direct a heart patient's care. If a patient enters a hospital with severe symptoms that require immediate treatment, he likely will receive medication.

    If the patient does not require emergency treatment, or once a crisis is brought under control, he should have a complete physical examination. This exam, including a drug screen, urinalysis, general chemistry, and a complete blood count, will provide a good indication of the patient's state of health. It also could identify medical factors influencing psychotic or other symptoms, such as mental dullness or lethargy.

    Treatments Available in a Psychiatric Hospital

    After a patient is stabilized, a psychiatrist may prescribe a variety of therapies, which could include sessions with a primary therapist, group therapy sessions with other patients, and family therapy sessions that may include parents, spouses, children, siblings, caretakers, and even close friends.

    Types of Mental Health Care Workers Involved in Therapy

  • Psychiatrists

  • Clinical psychologists

  • Psychiatric nurses

  • Rehabilitation therapists

  • Social workers

  • Physical therapists

  • Drug and alcohol counselors

  • Nutritionists

  • Source: the American Psychiatric Association

    A specialist in addiction counseling can be consulted if the patient's crisis was precipitated by drug or alcohol use, or if the hospital staff discovers that the patient is dependent on drugs.

    Essential

    The skills a patient learns in residential care can make her feel better about herself. If a patient feels she is making progress in therapy, getting along with other residents, and learning how to care for her household and herself, then her self-confidence and self-esteem may increase.

    It is common, but not necessarily universal, for patients to take antipsychotic drugs while attending therapy sessions. In most cases, the drug therapy will continue after the patient leaves the hospital. In therapy, patients learn skills to help them live independently. These can include hints for getting along better in the workplace and in social settings. Patients develop and practice routines to help them maintain personal hygiene and a clean, smoothly run home.

    As the patient's mental health improves, the mental health professionals and staff at the hospital will prepare a discharge plan. The plan should include details concerning the patient's medication, therapy, and outpatient care.

    Part-Time Hospitalization

    Partial hospitalization offers a less intensive treatment option than full-time hospital care. It involves attending activities, therapy, and programs at a hospital during the day. After receiving therapy and rehabilitation, the health care consumer returns home. Weekends may also be spent outside the hospital. This schedule allows patients to avoid the extra cost of overnight stays and interact with family and other members of the community when they are away from the hospital. Partial hospitalization may include the following services:

  • Individual psychotherapy

  • Group psychotherapy

  • Social rehabilitation

  • Vocational rehabilitation

  • Education counseling and assistance

  • Source: the American Psychiatric Association

    A patient is ready for partial hospitalization when he has benefited from therapy and rehabilitation designed to help him lead a more independent life. The support of family and/or others in the community can greatly increase his chances of success. The consumer may rely heavily on his outside support network when he is not attending sessions in the hospital.

    Assisted Living

    Assisted living is analogous to a retirement home that offers a range of on-site aide services. People who function very well and who need little outside assistance can live independent lives in their own rooms or apartments, but there will always be qualified staff nearby if they need help.

    People who need more help can also live alone and receive more visits from assistants who live in the same building. The amount of aid a person gets is determined by his needs. The patient's state of recovery determines his degree of independence.

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