October review

Over on the website of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK) I’ve written this brief review of MHNAUK’s last meeting, which took place at Unite the Union’s offices in Glasgow on October 11th 2019. This was a good meeting, with two guest speakers: Lawrie Elliott, Editor of the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing and David Thomson, Chair of the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland. I learned lots from both, and amongst other things ended up thinking how organised mental health nurses in Scotland look to be.

As it happens, MHNAUK is also about to embark on something new: next week we’re inviting nominations for people to lead our Education, Research, and Policy and Practice Standing Groups. Standing Groups are the engines of MHNAUK, and have been led thus far by Anne Felton, Mary Chambers and Neil Brimblecombe (and previously, John Baker) respectively. Big thanks to them for their work: the more that members become involved, the better.

Back in Cardiff, with esteemed co-investigators I’ve again (as I mentioned last month) been pressing on with the NIHR HS&DR-funded MENLOC evidence synthesis into end of life care for people with severe mental illnesses. This is proving to be a big piece of work, but we’re on track to submit our report in spring next year. As a team we’re also thinking carefully about future lines of enquiry, as there is lots still to do in this field.

A final thing to note in this catch-up: I’ve been thinking about what to say at next month’s Making a difference in Wales conference, which is all about taking the Framework for Mental Health Nursing forward. I think there is lots which is distinct about health policy and services in this part of the world, but also recognise the existence of gaps between policy and strategy aspirations, and workplace realities. One to mull over.

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#MHNR2019 review — MHNAUK

With a theme of From Global to Local: Mental Health in a Connected World, the 25th International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference (#MHNR2019) took place on September 12th and 13th 2019 at the RCN in London. The event was organised by Mental Health Nurse Academics UK, the Royal College of Nursing and the International Society […]

via #MHNR2019 review — MHNAUK

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Summer research summary

Si3mdrnce returning from a week of walking August has included making final preparations for #MHNR2019, which is looking very exciting. Elsewhere, a big part of my work this month has been writing an analysis of qualitative interview data generated as part of a phase 2 trial of 3MDR for military veterans with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder. 3MDR, or Modular motion-assisted memory desensitisation and reconsolidation, is a novel psychological intervention involving walking on a treadmill towards personally selected images of trauma whilst in the company of a skilled therapist. The study is led by Jon Bisson, and here are Neil Kitchiner and John Skipper talking about what it involves:

Working on a trial has been an interesting, and new, experience for me, and I’ve been learning lots. My qualitative write-up is destined for inclusion in a final report for the trial’s funding body, Forces in Mind Trust, but during this work as a team we’ve also been planning papers for publication.

menloc logo 5MENLOC, our ongoing evidence synthesis into end of life care for people with severe mental illnesses (about which I have written on this blog before), is in full swing. We’ve reached the stage where we’re writing up syntheses of the research papers and other outputs we’ve included, organised via a series of themes. More on this to follow in due course.

Finally, it’s been good to work in support of colleagues who have led new papers for publications. Here’s Jane Davies‘ latest paper on the experiences of partners of young people living with cancer, and a paper led by Ray Samuriwo on wound care and mental health.

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Walking for mental health

A brief post whilst away for a week of walking, crowned by this photograph of the sculpture in New Quay marking the halfway point along the Wales Coast Path. A short search online reveals that it was recently made by David Appleyard. A very fine job he’s made of it, too.

Another quick search online finds evidence of walking as being good for mental health. No great surprises there, then, including the point made at the end of the abstract that outdoor walking confers greater benefit than walking indoors. Here, too, is a link to an excellent project run by colleagues in the School of Healthcare Sciences in Cardiff involving walking groups for people who are homeless.

Time to get my boots on…

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Nursing numbers

Next week I’ll be in London for this year’s Eileen Skellern and JPMHN Award evening, hearing Mick McKeown give his Making the most of militant and maverick tendencies for mental health nursing Skellern lecture and Patrick Callaghan deliver his Lifetime Achievement Award address. The day following, June 14th, I’ll be at Kingston/St George’s chairing the summer meeting of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK. One of the things we’ll we talking about is NHS England’s Interim People Plan, which looks to be prioritising mental health nursing as an occupational group in need of support. Here’s a short piece I wrote yesterday for the MHNAUK website, complete with a toxic-looking figure showing the decline in applications for nursing degrees:

The NHS needs more mental health nurses. The most recently available data on the size and composition of the workforce in NHS England, for February 2019, records a total of 36,290 mental health nurses. This compares to an NHS England mental health nursing workforce in September 2009 of 40,602.

Published on June 3rd 2019, the Interim NHS People Plan is about supporting the people needed to deliver NHS England’s Long Term Plan. Chapter 3 addresses nursing, this being the profession where the greatest shortages are found and where the most urgent and immediate action must be taken. Mental Health Nurse Academics UK welcomes the identification of mental health nursing as a priority group, and notes the Interim People Plan’s statement that what must now happen is:

[…] a detailed review across all branches of pre-registration nursing, including a strong focus on the steps needed in mental health and learning disability nursing to support growth in these areas.

The Plan echos Mental Health Nurse Academics UK’s view that undergraduate degree courses offer the best way to secure a future supply of nurses. It also reproduces a figure pointing to a sharp decline in applications for nursing and midwifery courses in England since the removal of bursary support (specifically, a 31% decrease between 2016 and 2018):

Annotation 2019-06-06 120912

Extracted from Interim People Plan, p24

The Interim People Plan places an emphasis on what it refers to as ‘the offer’ made by the NHS to its staff. Mental health nursing needs a better offer if it is to improve the recruitment, retention and support of its current and future members. Mental Health Nurse Academics UK will be looking for concerted action in these areas.

My view is that this decline in applications was entirely foreseeable in the context of the removal of bursaries in England. As it happens, students of nursing and other health professions commencing their programmes of study in Welsh universities in Autumn 2019 can expect to be supported through the award of a bursary, in return for working for two years post-qualification in NHS Wales. That’s a good deal, in my book, and is something presented as part of the country’s wider #TrainWorkLive initiative. I’m not entirely sure how far this ‘Welsh offer’ (to borrow the language of the People Plan) is known throughout other parts of the UK: so I’m happy to give it a nudge here.

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May review

2019-05-20 18.41.32.jpgEarlier this month I joined colleagues at the main meeting of the #MHNR2019 scientific committee, held (as the conference itself will be) at the RCN in London. We had a good number of abstracts to work through, submitted by people from the UK, the US, Australia and elsewhere. The programme is being worked on now, and people will not have long to wait before learning the outcomes of the panel’s deliberations. As an aside, whilst the conference committee always welcomes proposals for workshops as well as for concurrent sessions, posters and symposia we were reminded, when we met, of the importance of workshops promising to make delegates work. This is doubly important given that a workshop typically occupies the same amount of time on the conference programme as do three concurrent talks: so they have to sound engaging, and interactive, and not read like a plan for a 90 minute lecture.

For me this month also included a trip to St Angela’s College in Sligo for a stint of external examining for the College’s Postgraduate Diploma in Community Mental Health Nursing. It’s a good course, attracting applicants from all around Ireland, in which students learn about recovery-focused practice, therapeutic relationships, formal therapies, the context for care and care coordination, and more besides. It’s complex work being a registered nurse, and that’s why in all parts of the world the profession is (or is becoming) a graduate one for new registrants, with specialist courses like this one in Sligo being offered at post-registration level. I mention this as, tediously, nurses (and their friends) are once again having to defend the value of an education which involves time in practice but also, crucially, study for a degree.

Finally, this is my 16th unbroken annual trip to the Hay Festival. When I was first here the event was a relatively small-scale affair, held in the town’s primary school. It’s a much bigger enterprise now, located on a site some half a mile out of town to which many thousands of visitors arrive each day. This year I’ve listened to talks and round table discussions on the interminable horror that is Brexit, the making of (and the intentions behind) Our Planet, the invasions first of the Vikings and then on D-Day, and more.

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COCAPP-A main findings paper

COCAPP-ACOCAPP-A, funded by the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research Programme, investigated care planning and coordination in inpatient mental health services. It was led by Alan Simpson, and I was mighty pleased to have been part of the research team. The full, 270 page, report appeared in 2017. Now, a derived paper reporting main findings has appeared in the journal BMC Psychiatry. Lead authored by Michael Coffey this article amounts to a more modest 18 pages, which means it stands a chance of actually being read by people able to make use of it.

As a gold open access article the paper is free to download to anyone with an internet connection. As a taster, here’s the abstract:

Background: Involving mental health service users in planning and reviewing their care can help personalised care focused on recovery, with the aim of developing goals specific to the individual and designed to maximise achievements and social integration. We aimed to ascertain the views of service users, carers and staff in acute inpatient wards on factors that facilitated or acted as barriers to collaborative, recovery-focused care.
Methods: A cross-national comparative mixed-methods study involving 19 mental health wards in six service provider sites in England and Wales. This included a survey using established standardised measures of service users (n = 301) and staff (n = 290) and embedded case studies involving interviews with staff, service users and carers (n = 76). Quantitative and qualitative data were analysed within and across sites using descriptive and inferential statistics, and framework method.
Results: For service users, when recovery-oriented focus was high, the quality of care was rated highly, as was the quality of therapeutic relationships. For staff, there was a moderate correlation between recovery orientation and quality of therapeutic relationships, with considerable variability. Staff members rated the quality of therapeutic relationships higher than service users did. Staff accounts of routine collaboration contrasted with a more mixed picture in service user accounts. Definitions and understandings of recovery varied, as did views of hospital care in promoting recovery. Managing risk was a central issue for staff, and service users were aware of measures taken to keep them safe, although their involvement in discussions was less apparent.
Conclusions: There is positive practice within acute inpatient wards, with evidence of commitment to safe, respectful, compassionate care. Recovery ideas were evident but there remained ambivalence on their relevance to inpatient care. Service users were aware of efforts taken to keep them safe, but despite measures described by staff, they did not feel routinely involved in care planning or risk management decisions. Research on increasing therapeutic contact time, shared decision making in risk assessment and using recovery focused tools could further promote personalised and recovery-focused care planning.

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