Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Could you offer a convicted sex offender non-judgmental care?

  • Comments (25)

I was fascinated to see in an NT news story quote: “In my theatre, I had a guy who was blown up with an IED, and the guy on the next table was supposed to be the guy who detonated the IED. That’s really difficult. But… you treat them no different.”

Because of course, as nurses, we treat all our patients the same, don’t we?

But it got me thinking. Do we never let our prejudices or our knowledge of the person’s background interfere with how we think about them?

As an ex- mental health nurse I’ve met my fair share of unsavoury characters. Frequently I nursed patients with long and complex forensic backgrounds and, more than once, convicted paedophiles and rapists.

Although I could see that offering my nursing skills may go some way to helping with rehabilitation, I couldn’t help but feel that I was somehow betraying the victims of these horrific crimes by helping the perpetrators. I like to think that this in no way influenced my treatment but I can’t say I considered every patient with “unconditional positive regard”, whether it showed or not.

On the other hand, being aware of these feelings can help you to overcome them. Every nurse can sympathise with the situation of having a patient who is rude or ungrateful, patients who we would rather someone else treated. Rather than doing what needs to be done as quickly as possible, I’ve known nurses who will take their time to make sure they’re not offering that patient poorer quality care than they would someone else.

But knowing that one of the people you are treating detonated the bomb that injured another person you’re also treating must at least cross your mind. On some level, would you see one person as less deserving of treatment?

After all, we’re only human. Our own opinions are always going to change how we think about a person, but do they change how we treat them?

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve struggled to remain impartial?

  • Comments (25)

Readers' comments (25)

  • Anonymous

    Interesting. As a prison nurse, this situation is an every day occurence! Not only do we care for those convicted of terrible crimes, but also tolerate a daily barrage of abuse, never mind ingratitude or rudeness. However, no-one forces us into this role, it is one which we choose to undertake, and I can honestly say that neither myself or the many colleagues I have met over the years treat anyone differently, inspite of the crimes they may have committed. The clients we care for are patients first, prisoners second, and the minute we stop thinking like that it is time to move on to a different job!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I also nurse in a prison and totally agree with the previous commentary.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    on a general ward would anyone have told me about a patients forensic history unless they were either on remand or a prisoner. we don't know the history of many of our patients, we look after everyone.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • john warwick

    This comment has been removed

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This comment has been removed as it breaches our site's terms and conditions http://www.nursingtimes.net/terms-and-conditions/

  • Anonymous

    Any nurse who answers this without thinking or reflecting should not be a nurse!!
    Treating everyone else as if they were our mother is not appropriate. Not everyone has had a positive mothering experience.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 30-Jul-2013 11:06 am

    agreed. and we are all vulnerable human beings with our weaknesses as well as our strengths. it wouldn't be very appropriate to treat the likes of Jimmy Savile as our 'mother'!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How do we ever know the person in the bed is not just a 'pre-apprehended' pedophile? That is some hubris to think we can judge others by what we see. I agree with the statement, they are patients first. We are their nurses first. We perform to the best of our abilities and allow others whose job it is to prosecute or punish. We don't need the lawyers coming in to do our jobs, do we?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I am surprised that an 'ex mental health' nurse would refer to her patients as 'unsavoury characters'. If patients need looking after then it is your job to care for them to the highest standard, if you don't and you want to judge others then go into something else as a career.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 30-Jul-2013 7:23 pm

    probably the reason for being an 'ex-'!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I'd have thought that within a relatively confidential forum such as this where all sorts of passions about the issues of the day are flaunted in a relatively supportive manner, an off the cuff and "normalised" adjective such as unsavoury could be used, but clearly that is not the case.

    Presumably MH Nurses are expected to remain objective at all times and not be allowed to have or express opinions amongst their peers?

    For the record I have worked with MH patients of similar backgrounds and managed to work with them without their past behaviours causing any conflict in my mind. I did find the physical and sexually motivated assaults I suffered whilst providing full nursing care to a sex offender difficult to manage in my own mind as a male, but that did not however stop me from providing an appropriate level of care in an objective manner. It did however make the team highly aware of the risks around this particular individual who was bed bound and required full nursing care for all activities of daily living.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.