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Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

What to Expect on the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

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The Inpatient Psychiatric Unit (IPU) serves children and teens between the ages of 3 and 18 who are in psychiatric crisis. Our goal is to help stabilize your child’s behavior by dealing with their immediate crisis. After that, we work on returning your child to the community.

Solution-Focused Interventions

The focus of the hospital stay is on solution-focused interventions. This includes developing new skills to cope with stress and get a better understanding of what is driving your child’s behavior. Children, teens and families can learn how to manage emotional and behavioral problems in a safe and caring environment.

Average Hospital Stay

An inpatient psychiatric hospital stay usually is about one week. This means most children and teens still have symptoms when they leave the hospital. Some will continue to struggle at home and in the community.

Our hope is that the struggles lessen over time. This will be more likely if the work we start here continues with your community providers.

What is the IPU program philosophy?

We use a program based on a behavior-management system of natural and logical consequences. Staff are “coaches” and promote three life standards and values:

  • Respect self.
  • Respect others.
  • Respect community.

Staff will teach, coach and reinforce emotion identification and regulation. This means being able to identify, name and control emotions. They also will teach distress-tolerance skills like anger management and relaxation.

What are the risks of an inpatient psychiatric hospital stay?

Our unit serves children and teens who struggle with emotional and behavioral problems. Your child may see behaviors you might find distressing and would prefer they not see. This may include the use of curse words; aggression; and psychiatric symptoms like self-harm, purging, mania and psychosis.

When will my child go home?

Every patient is different. The length of stay depends on your child’s situation. Most stays are about a week. Children and teens who are in the IPU for eating disorders, autism or pain management may stay longer and have a focus on assessment and treatment.

From the moment your child is admitted, we will talk with you about what we need to do before your child may go home. We will answer your questions and provide you with all of the resources you need. The specific requirements your child will need to meet before they may leave are called “discharge criteria.” Your healthcare team will work with you and your child each day to meet these criteria.

Are there other things that might affect the length of my child’s stay?

Yes. Your child may not show the same distressing behaviors on the unit that they do at home, school or in the community. We cannot work on behaviors we do not see. We may have to send them home without addressing your concerns. This is often frustrating to parents and caregivers.

Sometimes children and teens do not feel like their problems are as concerning as you and the outpatient providers feel they are. Because of this, children and teens sometimes refuse to participate in the treatment process. This can make it hard for us to accomplish as much as you or we would like.

How do we set goals for the hospital stay?

When you arrive on the unit, we will ask you to share your immediate concerns about your child. Your child’s treatment team will work with you to decide what your child can accomplish during this short stay. They also will work with you on goals that will take longer to reach. Some goals require ongoing outpatient care.

Our goals are to:

  • Stabilize your child’s immediate crisis.
  • Offer education about your child’s diagnosis and behaviors.
  • Assess if a medication might help manage your child’s symptoms.
  • Help build skills to manage crisis behaviors outside of the hospital.
  • Help your family access resources in the community.

What to Bring

All items brought to the IPU must be searched by staff.

These items are allowed on the IPU:

  • Clothes (three to four sets)
  • Swimsuit
  • Shoes and slippers
  • Comforter, blankets and pillow
  • Pictures and photos (not in frames)
  • Books
  • CDs and CD players
  • MP3 players/iPods (as long as they do not have Internet access)
  • Electric razors
  • Paper bags and cloth bags

These items are NOT allowed on the IPU:

  • Sharp items, such as knives, razors, scissors, pencil sharpeners and metal utensils
  • Breakable items, such as glass, mirrors and ceramic dishes
  • Medications
  • Cigarettes, lighters and matches
  • These electronics: cell phones, laptops, electronic games (such as PlayStation Portable, or PSP), DVD players and clocks
  • iPod Touch
  • Extra food or snacks
  • Plastic bags

Visitors to the IPU may bring cell phones. If visitors bring any other items that are not allowed on the IPU, the items will be locked in the IPU office during the visit.

Contact Us

Seattle

206-987-2055 (Inpatient Psychiatric Unit)

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