ReportageA pioneer of “psychosocial rehabilitation”, Professor Nicolas Franck, from the Vinatier hospital in the Lyon suburbs, wants to shake up the treatment of mental illnesses and the image of psychiatry.
It is in Bron, in the Lyon suburbs, within the Vinatier hospital, that the Left Bank Center stands. On this September afternoon, patients stroll freely in the park, birdsong in the background. The specialty of the place: psychosocial rehabilitation, an innovative approach to psychiatry.
This center, headed by Professor Nicolas Franck, is a “Pilot unit” which must present its project to the Assises of mental health and psychiatry, Monday, September 27. Here everything revolves around the idea of “Recovery”. It is not about making the disease or symptoms go away, but rather about trying to regain a form of balance and well-being.
“Before, a patient with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder was considered to have no hope of recovery. The weight of social and medical stigmatization was heavy ”, explains Professor Franck. Psychosocial rehabilitation attempts to “Restore patient confidence”. “We will insist on their abilities rather than their limits”, explains the psychiatrist. This approach ensures that the patient is always involved in decisions related to their care plan, regardless of their condition.
Art therapy, relaxation, psychoeducation
Both inside and outside the center, patients are free to walk around. “Everyone has their own room with a bathroom and their keys”, explains Muriel Le Breton, senior health executive. A way to give them a “Privacy”, “A sense of security”, she continues. Frédéric Boissié, a healthcare executive, also has his bunch of keys in his hand, but he rarely uses them. Here, the doors remain open. “Of course, we are not going to leave those in the pharmacy open”, tempers the doctor, interrupted by a patient who arrived unexpectedly, to greet the presents with a “check” of the elbow.
Patient schedules can be found on the hallway notice boards. On the program, art therapy, relaxation, psychoeducation workshops (which allows patients to be proactive in their recovery process, by informing them and their loved ones about their disease, the behaviors to adopt to avoid a relapse, the appropriate treatments , etc.). Patients also have access to the schedules of their caregivers. “It’s reassuring for them to know when their caregivers are there”, says Muriel Le Breton.
The team wants to demonstrate that this change is « possible ». Before, the establishment had three isolation rooms. Today there is only one. One has been transformed into a soothing lounge, the other into a game room. “We use too much restraint and isolation in France”, Judge Frédéric Boissié. The hospital team fights against this approach “Arbitrary” psychiatry, which she says will “Against fundamental rights”. In the only remaining isolation room, restraint is only possible every six hours, and isolation for a maximum of twelve hours for patients in crisis.
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