Key words:
Isolation Room – nurse's role – isolation – punishment – psychiatry
During my second year work placement, I had the opportunity to assist in putting
someone in an isolation room. At the time, I qualified this action as punitive. I then decided
to study the factors that lead up to this notion of punishment. Since isolation is supposed
to be a form of care with a therapeutic goal, I didn't understand how one could go so far as
to use it as a punishment.
I therefore decided to explore these questions through interviews. I interviewed
some of the workers at the UPSI service (“Unité Psychiatrique de Soins Intensifs” Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit) in Sainte Marie Hospital in Clermont-Ferrand, who have a
lot of experience with isolation rooms.
The answers showed that nursing staff feel truly concerned by these questions.
They regret the punitive and inefficient aspect of certain isolation room cases. They
explained that these cases are generally due to human causes, such as a lack of
personnel, but also can be due to a negative mind set of the caretaker that effects their
decision. Thus, this decision may not be beneficial to the patient.
On the one hand, this study shows that isolation rooms lead to a lot of questions in
psychiatric hospitals. On the other hand, it proves that there remains a lot of work in order
for this form of care to benefit to all patients concerned, especially in the initial decision
making process.