Aim This paper is a report on a study of experiences of young people aged 13 to 18 years who were nursed on adult wards.
Background Despite British government guidelines young people from 13 years of age continue to be admitted to adult areas in the United Kingdom. Although much has been written about the transition of the young person to adult services there is little research about the experiences of young people who are nursed on adult wards.
Method Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenology was used to explore the experiences of eight young people who had been nursed on adult wards between 2005 and 2010. Participants were selected by using a snowball sample. All participants had been admitted to hospital as an emergency. Data were collected in 2010. In depth interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using Colaizzi's framework.
Findings The young people reported that they had difficulties adjusting to adult wards. They found the wards noisy, staff did not appear to understand their needs and they were placed alongside older people with whom they were unable to have a conversation. In addition to this some young people were in areas where there were patients of the opposite sex. Poor experiences led to some adolescents subsequently refusing to be admitted which then had a detrimental effect on their short term and long term health.
Conclusion Many young people are being nursed in environments which are unsuitable for their needs. Whilst adolescents feel that children's wards are unsuitable for their needs, it is clear that they are not receiving satisfactory care on adult wards. Better provision needs to be made for young people including appropriately trained staff, adolescent friendly environments and areas in adult wards that are dedicated to adolescents.