At our mental health center we’ve recently had some of our staff expressed concerns about security at our outpatient office that serves severely mentally ill patients. While we’ve been in our current setting for over a dozen years without any significant incidents, several staff members seem to be concerned and afraid. We have had requests to add glass barriers between staff and clients in the small offices where we do administrative intakes, and also to one of our check-in reception counters.
We recently glassed in one of our main reception desks in an area that is fairly isolated with no other staff stationed nearby for most of the day. In the past in other organizations I remember frequent controversies over whether to enclose nursing stations on inpatient units to increase staff safety as opposed to encouraging staff-patient interaction by minimizing such barriers. Such situations always seemed to me to be a lose-lose proposition. Either staff members feel that administration is not listening to their serious concerns about safety or we’re creating a hostile environment that is not conducive to recovery.
I’d be interested to know what other folks are doing and what their thoughts are regarding this issue. I’m also looking for any good references that establish standards or best practices in this area. Thanks for sharing any of your thoughts.