Safety first for mental health patients with an anti ligature TV enclosures
Current health and safety legislation, particularly in the mental health sector, focuses on many issues of anti ligature (also referred to as non-loop) furniture and primarily the television. TV has become a way of life and almost seen as a ‘human right’ and a basic human need, however it is considered a low priority in the grand scheme of things – human life and the ethics of preserving life are far more important. On the other hand, television does have a part to play as it provides an informative, educational and entertainment value. The ultimate decision is down to the governor and committee of the institution, but is generally accepted that a TV set has a place in a mental health facility.
However, the serious issue of self harm must be considered when a patient is in a vulnerable state of mind. Assessments and procedures are part of the duty of care expected, so furniture and furnishings have to be versatile and adaptable to be suitable for psychiatric wards. Avoiding situations where patients can a hurt themselves, yet without physical restraint is preferable. One common area where anti-ligature points are easily accessible are TV sets. This is where material can be looped around a TV wall bracket and cause asphyxiation. The most sensible answer is to enclose the screen with an anti ligature TV enclosure. Whilst every precaution is taken to protect patients from self harm – or harm by others, individuals can not be watched the whole time. A shard of broken glass from a TV screen can also cause self injury or be used as a weapon towards others.
In Scotland, 50 hospital patients in just the last 4 years, have taken their own lives through suicide via various ways – not just hanging from a wall mounted TV. Many of these instances could have been avoided, even though risk assessments were carried out points are missed and follow up action not followed through when potential ligature points are identified. Anti ligature TV enclosures will solve many of the problems, whilst allowing the patients to watch television with dignity. Whether in a community room or a solitary room, television screens are commonly found and should be enclosed for every ones safety. One of the worst culprits for creating a loop is material, like bedding. Sheets can be ripped into strips and are strong enough to take the weight of an adult. Wall mounted televisions are practical but MUST be enclosed in a steel TV housing unit.
Putting to one side the concern of hanging, televisions not securely fixed to a surface are a potential hazard; a smashed screen or hurling the set across a room is enough danger and avoidable.