Lots of interesting things to report from a packed week. Monday took me to a meet-up with research-minded nurses from Cardiff and Vale UHB, the first of a series of events organised by Professor Lesley Lowes aimed at supporting research capacity and engagement amongst practitioners. Here’s the flyer:
In her presentation, Bridie Evans made use of a segment from a NISCHR CRC video introducing the work of Involving People. This has been uploaded to the NISCHR CRC YouTube channel, where the part Bridie used begins at around the 1:53 mark:
Yesterday was the first Mental Health Nurse Academics UK meeting of the 2014-15 academic year. We convened in Manchester, with public involvement and engagement in mental health research and education the theme for the pre-business part of the day. Lauren Walker and Lindsey Cree led with an excellent presentation drawing on their service user and carer researcher experiences working on the Enhancing the Quality of User Involved Care Planning in Mental Health Services (EQUIP) study. Steven Pryjmachuk and I talked about our experiences of involving young people in research, drawing on Steven’s self-care project and our shared RiSC study. John Baker closed this part of the day with an impressive University of Manchester case study of how public and patient involvement in research and education can be embedded at institutional level.
Elsewhere in yesterday’s MHNAUK meeting there was a lively discussion around the promotion of physical health and well-being in people using mental health services, and a review of this year’s NPNR conference. Plans are also being laid for next year’s event, with opportunities about to be notified for people interested in becoming more involved via membership of the conference organising committee.
Perusing, for no particular reason, my fourth edition of the Red Handbook (published, I think, just after the start of the last century) I find this early reference to mental health nursing in people’s homes. Here are the relevant pages for those interested:
Note the sections implying that attendance in private houses is for the higher classes only, along with the description of all those things which should be done to reduce risk.
Interesting, too, that attendants are reminded that drinking alcohol on duty might not be the best of ideas. Advice like that never goes out-of-date.
For other posts drawing on this first-ever textbook for mental health nurses, try From ‘The Red Handbook’ to ‘The Art and Science of Mental Health Nursing’ and Exam time.
A common refrain amongst mental health nurses is that our knowledge, skills and contributions are poorly understood and undervalued by our physical healthcare nurse colleagues. As a nurse trained in both mental and physical health care fields I have sympathy with this position. But I also wonder if our concern with meeting mental health need has caused us to lose sight of the importance of physical health? I am again reminded of Professor Graham Thornicroft’s recent editorial in the BMJ on the scandal of early death in people with mental illness. Mental health nurses have a real part to play in promoting physical wellbeing and facilitating access to services, in their capacity as direct providers and as coordinators of care. Locally, I see evidence that some are taking this part of their work seriously. I know of mental health nurses who, as part-time MSc students, are motivated to develop smoking cessation programmes in hospitals and to introduce wellbeing screening clinics in the community.
With all this in mind it was interesting to see the most recent issue of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing carrying a series of papers on this topic. There are contributions on: the work of mental health nurses in primary care; promoting access; attitudes, knowledge and training needs; and the physical activity levels of people with mental ill-health. Worth a read, I think.
Unrelatedly, here in England and Wales we are midway through an extended (bank holiday) weekend. This is all pretty meaningless to those nurses for whom shiftwork goes on as usual. Occupying the privileged position that I do, this afternoon brings not a trip to the office but, instead, the first visit of the new season to the Cardiff City Stadium. There, the newly promoted Bluebirds play their inaugural home game in football’s Premier League. Against Manchester City, it’s going to be tough. But whatever the outcome I know we’ll enjoy the occasion.
For students up and down the country it is examination season. Whilst students of mental health nursing are busy submitting their dissertations, writing up their reflective essays and achieving their practice-based ‘competencies’ I thought it might be interesting to share the ‘Regulations for the Training and Examination of Candidates for the Certificate of Proficiency in Nursing and Attending on the Insane’. I have scanned these from my copy of the Red Handbook:
In uploading these pages I have just noticed the mention (on page 147, the last-but-one reproduced above) of ‘Attendance of the insane in private houses’. Is it stretching things too far to suggest this as an early reference to community mental health nursing?
I also notice how much these regulations refer to the assessment and maintenance of bodily health (although I have no idea whatsoever what might be meant by ‘the insane ear’, a phrase appearing on page 146). Earlier this week, writing in an editorial for the BMJ Graham Thornicroft described the excess mortality of people with mental health problems as ‘a human rights disgrace’. He’s right, and whilst I’m glad we’re out of the age of the asylum and of ‘attending on the insane’ we might yet learn something from an historic nursing syllabus which placed emphasis on the importance of physical well-being.