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Patient's Contribution to their Treatment

On 9-South we do our best to provide our patients with the best care possible during their stay. Inpatient units in this era are a scare resource, and stays are kept as short as possible. As a result, we all work hard to make our patients’ stay with us as productive as possible. Patients can do a great deal to contribute to their own care during their time on the unit.

Sometimes patients come to 9-South with the belief that what they need is to come for a rest. Exhausted by their struggle against their illness, this belief is understandable. Unfortunately, being on the unit for a rest is not a suitable use of the inpatient unit’s resources. Usually a rest is better arranged at home with extra support, or even on vacation. Sometimes a rest does help to regain strength, but rest does not in itself change the problems that contributed to the exhaustion in the first place. Justifiable use of the inpatient unit’s resources calls for active use of those resources.

Sometimes, effective treatment involves little more than the use of medication or electroconvulsive therapy, requiring little input from the patients themselves. Sometimes changes made by patients’ families, friends, or employers can result in patients feeling significantly better with little or no input from the patients. These situations are rare; in the great majority of cases, patients will also need to change the way they live their lives if the quality of their lives is to change significantly.

We recommend that you devote yourself to contributing to your treatment as much as you possibly can. This will mean discussing your treatment needs and opportunities with your treatment team to ensure that the options with the best likelihood of success and least side-effects are selected. Our inpatient unit offers a number of individual, group, family and occupational therapies; the particular mix of therapies suitable for you, and requiring your involvement, is something to be decided by you and your treatment team. We strongly favour a collaborative approach; we offer our expertise in diagnosis and treatment, and you offer your expertise in describing the unique experience of your feelings, thoughts, sensations, behaviours, and symptoms. Collaboration that includes the perspectives and active participation of both staff and patients is what will maximize benefit from treatment.

We recognize that not all patients want to contribute to their own treatment, and sometimes may not be able to contribute. Patients’ contribution may require uncomfortable and difficult changes in the way that patients think, act, and direct their attention. Such a contribution requires effort, courage, knowledge, and humility. Negative past experience, fatigue, fear, pride, anger, despair, confusion, or psychiatric illness can all play a part in coming to a decision not make a contribution to one’s own treatment or to some part of that treatment. Often, problem-solving with the team about the factors that interfere with deciding to contribute to your own treatment can be very productive, and can lead to changes which make it much easier to make such a contribution. If despite such efforts you still decide not to actively contribute to your own treatment, or some part of it, please inform your treatment team, so that appropriate adjustments in the treatment plan can be made and you can be advised about the range of treatment options still available.

All of our staff want to help you in the best way possible. Working together works best. If there is anything you think we can do to make it easier for you to work with us as an active partner in your own treatment, please let us know.