Safe staffing (again)

safe staffingJust over a year ago I posted a short piece on this site on safe staffing, particularly noting the work of Shaun Lintern and John Baker in alerting people to the importance of this in the mental health nursing context. Since then, the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 has passed into law, and the Welsh Government has opened this consultation on its draft statutory guidance for Local Health Boards and NHS Trusts. My colleague Aled Jones is coordinating a School of Healthcare Sciences response.

Here in Wales, the duty to calculate nurse staffing levels is currently limited to adult acute medical and surgical inpatient wards. In each NHS organisation with responsibilities in these fields, the Government’s draft document refers to the appointment of a ‘designated person’ with the job of calculating nurse staffing levels using three elements:

  • professional judgement;
  • use of an evidence-based workforce planning tool; and
  • a consideration of the extent to which patients’ wellbeing is sensitive to nursing care.

Making these calculations, I can only imagine, will be a mighty challenging task requiring in-depth understanding of individual wards, the characteristics of patients admitted, and use of a tool which has (so far as I understand it) yet to be finalised.

Meanwhile, via John Baker I learn today of this new publication by NHS Improvement on safe, sustainable and productive staffing in mental health services. This is not about safe nursing staffing, but is about interprofessional staffing in specialist mental health services. Here I read of expectations around right staff, right skills and right place, right time and also spot a rapid review of the relevant literature. This begins with the understated observation that, ‘the issue of safe and sustainable staffing in mental health is complex and research is lacking’. I should say so. The time is ripe, I think, for some serious independent studies in this area.

 

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#MHNR2017 call for abstracts

Here is the newly published flyer for this year’s International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference. This is Mental Health Nurse Academics UK‘s annual conference, and is organised in collaboration with the Royal College of Nursing. Spread the word!

 

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Abstract top tips

img_6122As I mentioned in this earlier post, last month I made the trip to the RCN’s headquarters in London for a first planning meeting for this coming September’s 23rd International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference. Handily for me, we’re meeting in Cardiff: and the call for abstracts will be published soon (very soon). This will include information on the themes for #MHNR2017, and guidance on the preparation and submission of abstracts. Further down the line, sometime in May, the scientific committee will convene to deliberate over which abstracts to accept.

Here, then, are some top tips for people sharpening their pencils in anticipation of the call appearing. When the conference scientific committee meets to pool our individual abstract assessments and to make decisions we’ll be looking, generally put, for well-presented submissions which follow our published guidelines. This may sound obvious, but experience suggests that not everyone submitting abstracts pays close attention to the information provided. We’ll be looking for evidence of relevance to mental health nursing, and commitments to rigour. We will also pay considerable attention to the categorisation of abstracts. Workshops need to involve work; proposals for these should therefore promise interaction and participant activity. Suggestions for symposia should offer to bring a number of people together to present papers on a shared theme, and be presented as a package. Proposals for concurrent sessions should present work completed or well underway; offers to present findings from studies in which data have yet to be generated are unlikely to be accepted. In these cases, submitting poster abstracts might be a better option. And, whilst our conference themes are important, they are not intended to serve as straightjackets: so abstracts relevant to the field but which do not fit perfectly are still worth submitting.

I’ll post more on the conference and its call for papers as things unfold. In the meantime, dig that keyboard out and prepare to get writing.

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Out with the old

Happy new year. In one of my earliest posts on this blog I wrote of coming across a fallen tree. Over the months and years following this became something of a local landmark for those of us fond of making the trip over Craig yr Allt by foot. The tree was removed sometime last autumn, with tyre tracks telling a tale. I’ll add its disappearance to the long list of last year’s losses, included on which are Carrie Fisher, George Michael and the security of Britain remaining in the EU.

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If 2016 had more than its fair share of trampling, and like the track up Craig yr Allt bowed out with its topsoil removed, perhaps this year will be different. Or maybe not. Anyway…

As 2017 gets underway I’ve opened my term of office as Vice Chair of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK with a fruitful conversation with Steven Pryjmachuk, the group’s Chair for this year and next. Ideas for refreshing the MHNAUK website, and our March meeting at the University of Hertfordshire, were amongst things on the agenda. We’ll have lots to talk about; as I observed in my last post, a number of important things are afoot with likely changes to the education of nurses and the beginnings of plans being laid for the next research excellence framework.

Elsewhere, the forthcoming care planning and care coordination themed issue of the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing which Michael Coffey, Alan Simpson and I are guest editing is taking shape nicely. We have some super articles lined up, and will be writing editorials in the near future.

Later in the year, in September, the newly renamed International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference (the NPNR, as was) meets in Cardiff. I’ll be off to a conference planning meeting in London in a week’s time where we’ll be talking about a theme for #MHNR2017 and possible keynote speakers. I’ll perhaps blog something about that when we’re done.

marie-et-al-2017On the publications front, Mohammad Marie has lead authored (with Aled Jones and me in support) this latest paper. It’s all about the challenges faced by Palestinian community mental health nurses, and represents the fourth article emerging from Mohammad’s PhD thesis in something like 18 months. That’s good going indeed. Here’s the abstract:

Background:
Nurses in Palestine (occupied Palestinian territory) work in a significantly challenging environment. The mental health care system is underdeveloped and under-resourced. For example, the total number of nurses who work in community mental health centres in the West Bank is seventeen, clearly insufficient in a total population of approximately three million. This research explored daily challenges that Palestinian community mental health nurses (CMHNs) face within and outside their demanding workplaces.
Methods:
An interpretive qualitative design was chosen. Face-to-face interviews were completed with fifteen participants. Thirty-two hours of observations of the day-to-day working environment and workplace routines were conducted in two communities’ mental health centres. Written documents relating to practical job-related policies were also collected from various workplaces. Thematic analysis was used across all data sources resulting in four main themes, which describe the challenges faced by CMHNs.
Results and conclusion:
These themes consist of the context of unrest, stigma, lack of resources, and organisational or mental health system challenges. The study concludes with a better understanding of challenges in nursing which draws on wider cultural contexts and resilience. The outcomes from this study can be used to decrease the challenges for health professionals and enhance the mental health care system in Palestine.

 

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In with the new

Following a discussion involving the event’s steering committee and Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK), what was the International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research Conference has now become the International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference. Next year we meet in Cardiff on September 14th and 15th, and early information can be found here. This site will be updated as further plans are made, so it’s worth checking in from time to time. We’ve also updated our conference twitter feed; clicking takes you there. Our hashtag, which is already in use, is #MHNR2017.

For a taster of the conference, here are links to four of last year’s keynote presentations: Steven Pryjmachuk, Elaine Hanzak, Luciana Berger MP and Bryn Lloyd-Evans:

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to have been elected as Vice Chair of MHNAUK. I’ll be working with the Chair, Steven Pryjmachuk, throughout 2017 and 2018 before becoming Chair at the start of 2019 for a further two years. I’m grateful for the opportunity colleagues have given me, and will do my best to lead and represent the group and the wider field. I anticipate having plenty to do, noting changes ahead in the education of nurses, the funding of students and the run-in to the next research excellence framework. More on all these to follow, I’m sure: with time today to draw attention to the decision by the Welsh Government to continue bursary payments in 2017-18 for eligible students of nursing, midwifery and the allied health professionals. As the press release announcing this makes clear, individuals taking this offer up will need to commit ‘in advance to taking up the opportunity to work in Wales, post qualification, for a period of two years’. Entirely unclear are funding arrangements for the period from 2018-19 onwards.

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Reflections on #AfterWhitchurch

Further to my last post looking ahead to #AfterWhitchurch, here now are my reflections on the event as it happened as also recorded on the Cardiff University mental health blog. I’ve selected some photos, too.

The closure of Whitchurch Hospital to inpatients in spring 2016 provided the backdrop for #AfterWhitchurch, a collaborative Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/Cardiff University Festival of Social Science event focusing on the changing system of mental health care hosted at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts on November 10th 2016.

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Whitchurch Hospital opened as the Cardiff City Mental Hospital in 1908, the image below being the first entry on the first page of the hospital’s visitors book.

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Members of the hospital’s Historical Society were on hand with objects, documents and photographs from their archive. Artist and director Elaine Paton presented and talked about her work with Moment(o)s of Leaving, a multimedia performance produced to mark the occasion of the hospital’s closure. Audiorecorded interviews, created for Momento(s) of Leaving by artist/curator and researcher Julia Thomas, recounted staff members’ reflections on leaving Whitchurch and their thoughts for the future.

Chaired by Norman Young from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, School of Healthcare Sciences and service user researchers discussed how mental health care has shifted from hospital to the community, and shared reflections from research into the organisation of services, the work and experiences of service users and staff and the provision and evaluation of novel psychological interventions.

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Ben Hannigan talked about using in-depth case methods to understand mental health services at different levels of organisation, and Nicola Evans discussed her research into the mental health of children and young people. Dean Whybrow drew on 18 years of experience in the Royal Navy to describe how mental health support and interventions is provided in the military. Alan Meudell shared his reflections on being a service user researcher, and Bethan Edwards spoke of her dual identity as an occupational therapy researcher investigating care for older people with dementia and as a service user researcher. Stimulating and informed questions from the floor challenged the panel to think about stigma, the impact of research on changing practice and services offering respite and asylum.

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Programme for #AfterWhitchurch

Tomorrow evening at Chapter Arts I’ll be joining friends for #AfterWhitchurch, an Economic and Social Research Council/Cardiff University Festival of Social Science event on the changing system of mental health care. Here is our programme, for those interested:

And here is a link to Elaine Paton’s Moment(o)s of Leaving video, which Elaine herself will be introducing:

As I type this post we have a handful of (free) tickets which have just become available, returned by people no longer able to be there. Follow this link to book in: and look forward to seeing people there.

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