Plan4Recovery used qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate the relationships between recovery, quality of life, social support and shared decision-making amongst people using social care services in Wales. The project team included mental health researchers with practitioner backgrounds, experience of using services, and of mixed methods studies. The paper, published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, is in gold open access form which makes it free to download.
For a shortcut, here’s the abstract:
Mental health care is a complex system that includes social care organisations providing support for people with continuing needs. The relationship over time between decisional conflict, social support, quality of life and recovery outcomes across two time periods for people experiencing mental health problems in receipt of social care was investigated.
This is a mixed methods study comprised of a quantitative survey at two time points using measures of decisional conflict, social support, recovery and quality of life in a random sample (n = 122) using social care services in Wales, UK. In addition, 16 qualitative case studies were developed from data collected from individuals, a supportive other and a care worker (n = 41) to investigate trajectories of care. Survey responses were statistically analysed using SPSS and case study data were thematically analysed.
Participants reported increasing decisional conflict and decreasing social support, recovery and quality of life over the two time points. Linear regression indicated that higher recovery scores predict better quality of life ratings and as ratings for social support decline this is associated with lower quality of life. Correlational analysis indicated that lower decisional conflict is associated with higher quality of life. Thematic analysis indicated that ‘connectedness and recovery’ is a product of ‘navigating the system of care’ and the experience of ‘choice and involvement’ achieved by individuals seeking help.
These results indicate that quality of life for people experiencing mental health difficulties is positively associated with social support and recovery and negatively associated with decisional delay.
I’m back from my annual trip to the International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research conference, held this year in Nottingham and once again presented as a collaboration between MHNAUK and the RCN.
This, the 22nd NPNR gathering, is the second for which I have served as a member of the conference organising and scientific committee. Our theme – trailed well in advance via our dedicated conference twitter account – was mental health across the lifecourse. We had some super keynote speakers: Elaine Hanzak, who spoke with openness about her recovery from postnatal mental illness; Luciana Berger MP, former Shadow Minister for Mental Health and President of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health, who demonstrated knowledge of, and commitment to, the field; John Keady, who spoke with passion about creative, biographical, approaches to researching the needs and experiences of people with dementia, including in his ongoing Neighbourhoods and Dementia programme; Steven Pryjmachuk, who made the case for nursing leadership in children and young people’s mental health research, and along the way gave a mention to the RiSC study; and Bryn Lloyd-Evans, who summarised the state of play in crisis resolution research, drawing (amongst other things) on the CORE programme. Our plenary sessions were expertly chaired by Wendy Cross and Geoff Dickens, and – as a first – this year’s event also included a partnership with André Tomlin from the Mental Elf Service and Mark Brown and Vanessa Garrity from the WeMHNurses community. This meant we had lots of social media and online discussion throughout the conference, recording of plenary sessions and a live-streamed pre-event round table evening discussion chaired by Alan Simpson. Here is a link to the recording, for those who missed it as it happened:
Once I have a link to the recordings of #NPNR2016’s keynote talks I’ll update this post with these, too.
A note, too, on the conference’s workshops and concurrent sessions. I enjoyed participating in André Tomlin’s critical appraisal workshop, and with Elaine Hanzak writing a contribution during this to the blog post published on The Mental Elf website here. I also enjoyed our follow-up discussion on using social media, convened by André and Vanessa Garrity. I heard Nicky Lambert give two presentations (no less), and listened to talks from Karen Wright, Paula Libberton, Andrew Grundy and Ashlee Charles. There’s some great work going on out there, let it be said. That includes in COCAPP-A, Plan4Recovery and RiSC, all of which were presented in Nottingham.
As soon as we’re able, the conference organising committee will announce details of both dates and venue for #NPNR2017. Watch this space for an update.
Here’s a link to my first post for a new Cardiff University Mental Health Blog. The content will be broadly familar to people who have dipped into my personal blog in the past, insofar as I have chosen to say something general about doing mental health services research.
Working in collaboration with colleagues across the UK, including with people who have directly used services, researchers in the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University study mental health systems.
Clicking the hyperlink above, which appears beneath the brief snippet of text, will take you to the full piece. There are already some interesting other posts on the site, too, including a piece by Mike Owen written as an opener.
Time, just about, to use a bus journey across Cardiff en route to the University Hospital of Wales site (for the purposes of teaching) to post an update on recent activities.
There’s lots to say. Projects I’ve blogged about on this site (COCAPP, COCAPP-A, Plan4Recovery) are now being written up. Our main findings paper from COCAPP appears imminently in BMC Psychiatry. Alan Simpson, as lead author, completed checking the proofs of this in the last few days so we know it’s on its way. Michael Coffey has lead authored a COCAPP paper addressing risk; earlier this week this was accepted for publication in Health Expectations. Further papers will follow, as they will in the future from COCAPP-A. I’ll make a point of posting about each as they appear. Plan4Recovery has been about shared decision-making and social approaches to care, and here, too, work on a first publication is well underway.
Meanwhile, Therapeutic skills for mental health nurses edited by Nicola Evans and me has just been published by Open University Press. This is a fine text indeed (though I say so myself), which we hope proves particular useful to students.
A big highlight of the last few weeks has been the award of a doctorate to my colleague and (now former) student Pauline Tang. Pauline used qualitative methods to investigate the use of electronic patient records in a medical assessment unit, and you can read her thesis here. And talking of doctorates: Mohammad Marie, writing with Aled Jones and me, has a second paper from his study of resilience in Palestinian community mental health nurses about to appear: this one in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.
Right! I’m off the bus and walking to a classroom. Time to fly, and to remind myself that it is perhaps better to post more frequently than to cram so much into a single, short, piece like this.
Not for the first time, I’ve attempted to produce some cumulative insights from the past and present mental health research studies I’ve had the opportunity to work on. These include my PhD investigation into work and roles in community mental health care, my post-doctoral study of crisis services, and more recent projects which Alan Simpson, Michael Coffey or I have led on.
The prompt, on this occasion, has been the chance to give a presentation at a School of Healthcare Sciences research seminar taking place this afternoon. For anyone interested, here is the PowerPoint I used. I opened with some general comments on the need for mental health research, and on the funding landscape. I then had some things to say about theory, design and methods. Many of the individual slides have hyperlinks to green open access publications:
In other news, I find myself engaged in a prolonged period of doctoral student activity. I’ve examined a number of theses in and out of Cardiff in recent months, and have sat with students during their vivas as either supervisor or independent chair. This term has been particularly packed. Plenty of writing has also been taking place: papers and reports are being written from COCAPP, RiSC and Plan4Recovery, and from completed theses I have helped to supervise. Data generation in COCAPP-A has almost concluded, and new research ideas are taking shape. Exciting times, if a little frenetic.
The 21st Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research (NPNR) conference took place on Thursday and Friday, September 17th and 18th 2015, with the theme of ‘Building new relationships in mental health nursing: opportunities and challenges’. The occasion was a fine one, with just short of 200 people in attendance. For those not able to make it but wanting to know more, the programme can still be found here and the book of abstracts here.
I’ve been on the NPNR scientific and organising committee this year, courtesy of my membership of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK. This afforded me the chance to welcome delegates at the conference opening, and to draw attention to the just-breaking news of Professor Len Bowers’ planned retirement at the start of 2016. Len has been an inspirational mental health nurse researcher: more on this later.
Introduced by Professor Liz Hughes as day one conference chair, this year’s keynotes commenced with Professor Karina Lovell giving an overview of the current state of knowledge in remote psychological therapies. Karina is a world leader in research into interventions for people with commoner mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as being actively involved in services and practice through her work with organisations like Anxiety UK and others. For an example of important new research in this area check out the REEACT trial into computerised CBT for people with depression. This is an important study which Karina both referenced in her talk, and is actively involved in.
Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, delivered a second keynote on using mental health intelligence. She praised the work of nurses, and made a strong case for mental illness prevention. Geraldine also reminded delegates of the high rates of premature mortality of people living with mental health difficulties, and the continued exclusion of many from employment. As routes to improvement she pointed to leadership, and the value of data to benchmark and drive up standards.
Day one’s final keynote presentation was delivered by André Tomlin, founder of the Mental Elf website and author of this pre-conference blogpost. André is an information scientist, who illustrated the challenge of keeping up-to-date with the evidence using this slide. Podcasts, social media, tweetchats and other new technologies are all part of André’s solution to the challenge of information overload, and as strategies to help plug the leaky evidence pipeline. The National Elf Service, of which the Mental Elf is a part, plays a big part in this area; for an overview of what’s on offer, here’s one of André’s videos:
Chair for day two was Professor Doug MacInnes, one of whose duties was to introduce Professor Shôn Lewis from the Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health at the University of Manchester as the deliverer of the conference’s fourth keynote lecture. Shôn spoke about current approaches to the care and treatment of people with psychosis and schizophrenia, using findings from the non-commercial CATIE and CUtLASS trials to suggest that newer antipsychotics are generally no better than first generation antipsychotics. Shôn also referenced the SoCRATES trial to evidence the idea that outcomes are associated with the quality of the therapeutic alliance, rather than with the specific therapeutic approach used. SoCRATES, I have now discovered, compared the effectiveness of (1) CBT plus routine care, (2) supportive counselling plus routine care and (3) routine care alone for people with schizophrenia. Shôn devoted the last part of his presentation to ClinTouch (a mobile phone app to record and upload symptoms) and CareLoop (which is testing if ClinTouch can be connecteded to NHS IT systems and to everyday practice).
#NPNR2015’s final keynote was delivered by Mark Brown, and the full text of his talk can be read here. Mark edited One in Four magazine, and is now development director of Social Spider, runs the Day in the Life project and is part of the team behind the WeMHNurses Twitter meeting place. Drawing on personal experience of its usefulness he described digital technology as less of a possible future than an unfolding present. One example of tech in action, which Mark referred to in his talk, is his own Doc Ready website. This was designed to help people prepare for discussions with doctors about their mental health difficulties.
That’s summary enough of the keynotes. From the concurrent sessions I participated in, chaired or observed I’ll first start with the SUGAR meets Dragons’ Den workshop. Three volunteers – Jason Hickey, Laoise Renwick and Cher Hallett – pitched their research ideas to SUGAR members. In the event, SUGAR offered their time and support to all three, but also voted Cher’s plans (on intramuscular injections) as the best of the batch. In the second concurrent I’m picking out, Julian Hunt, Alan Meudell and Michael Coffey presented reflections from Plan4Recovery. This project, which I’m also part of, is examining shared decision-making and social networks for people using secondary mental health services. And, finally, a word about our COCAPP symposium. This started with an overview paper from Alan Simpson, was followed by a presentation from Michael Coffey titled, ‘Ordinary risks and accepted fictions: how contrasting and competing priorities work in risk assessment care planning’ and concluded with a paper from Sally Barlow and me on participants’ views and experiences of recovery and personalisation.
Organised by Laoise Renwick, this year for the first time the NPNR conference featured a poster trail. This worked well. Displayed posters were themed, and during lunchtime on day two guided delegates took opportunities to speak with those associated with them. Along the way I spotted some interesting posters from the RCN, drawing attention to an upcoming history of mental health nursing exhibition (organised with lots of help from Ian Hulatt) about to launch in London.
Finally, a word on Len Bowers. At Doug MacInnes’ invitation, Len took to the lectern during the afternoon of day two to confirm his upcoming retirement and his plans for the future. These include (we learned) playing the flute, travel, photography and electronic music-making. Very nice. Len is a generous, principled and humble man whose contribution to creating new knowledge for mental health nursing has been immense. Take Safewards as an example. This is Len’s NIHR-funded programme grant, findings from which are changing practice in the UK and around the world. That’s some achievement, in my book. We wish him well.
For those not at the 20th International Network for Psychiatric Research Conference, which took place yesterday and the day before at Warwick University, here are links to the conference brochure and the book of abstracts. Following this link takes you to Laura Benfield’s aggregation of #NPNR2014-tagged tweets. Laura, I hear, is moving on from the RCN Events team: many thanks to her for all the behind-the-scenes work at this, and previous, conferences.
This was another high-quality NPNR gathering. Brendan McCormack gave an impassioned keynote on person-centred care, emphasising the absolute importance of values and culture, and Julie Repper spoke eloquently on co-production and the vital work that mental health nurses can do to promote this. Debbie Hicks talked of the work of The Reading Agency in using books to promote mental health and wellbeing. In his Friday morning keynote Swaran Singh gave a presentation which had, at its heart, the idea that higher recorded rates of mental illness in migrant groups are better explained by experiences of social adversity than they are by institutionalised racism. Kevin Ann Huckshorn delivered a final keynote centring on leadership and the implementation of recovery and coercion-reducing approaches.
I also sat in on, and chaired, some excellent concurrent sessions. From speaking with fellow delegates I know that I missed plenty of others of equal quality. From Fiona Nolan and colleagues I learned of the latest in the development and evaluation of protected engagement time initiatives, and from Hilary Ford of the use of a lifecourse approach in pre-registration mental health nurse education. I always appreciate what Mick McKeown has to say, and this year heard Fiona Jones and him talking about the opportunities (and challenges) of introducing recovery ideas in a secure hospital. I heard Brenda Happell deliver two papers: on the relationships between clinical experiences in mental health settings and nursing students’ attitudes to mental health as a field of practice, and on the introduction and evaluation of a service user-led module. Iain Hepworth and Peter Martin both gave talks touching on the work of liaison mental health nurses, and Alan Finnegan presented findings from a grounded theory study of military mental health nurses. Hilary Wareing shared experiences in introducing smoke-free mental health services, Hannah Walsh and colleagues talked of education and training for clinical support workers, and last (but certainly not least) Len Bowers shared his thoughts on (and experiences of) online suicide prevention education for mental health nurses.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that the annual NPNR conference has a deserved reputation for informal collegiality and friendliness, and this year was no exception. I enjoyed meeting up with friends old and new.
Looking ahead, I see that an early call for suggested themes for NPNR 2015 has already gone out:
Some time away and pressure of work explain the absence of recent posts on this site. So here’s a catch-up. In COCAPP, data generation and analysis are pressing ahead, whilst COCAPP-A (which is asking questions about care planning in acute mental health hospitals) has officially commenced. Plan4Recovery (which is concerned with shared decision-making and social connections for people using mental health services) is generating data. The draft final report from the RiSC study has now been peer reviewed and is back with us, the research team, for revisions. Methods and findings from this project (an evidence synthesis in the area of risk for young people moving into, through and out of inpatient mental health hospital) were also presented last month at the CAMHS conference at the University of Northampton. Many thanks to Steven Pryjmachuk for doing this.
In this presentation I principally draw on two studies conducted in the UK to share some cumulative insights into the interconnected worlds of mental health policy, services, work (including that of nurses) and the experiences of users. I first set the scene with a brief review of the historic system-wide shift away from hospitals in favour of care being increasingly provided to people in their own homes. I emphasise the importance of this development for the mental health professions, and show how community care opened up new jurisdictional opportunities for nurses, social workers and others. I then draw on data from a project using a comparative case study design and ethnographic methods to show how the everyday work of mental health nurses (and others) is shaped both by larger jurisdictional claims and the contextual peculiarities of the workplace. From this same project I also show how the detailed, prospective, study of unfolding service user trajectories can lay bare true divisions of labour, including the contributions made by people other than mental health professionals (including support staff without professional accreditation, community pharmacists and lay carers) and by users themselves. I then introduce the second study, an investigation into crisis resolution and home treatment (CRHT) services, with an opening account of the unprecedented policymaking interest shown in the mental health system from the end of the 1990s. CRHT services appeared in this context, alongside other new types of community team, and I draw on detailed ethnographic case study data to examine crisis work, the wider system impact of setting up new CRHT services and the experiences of users. I close the presentation overall with some reflections on the cumulative lessons learned from these linked studies, and with some speculative ideas (on which I invite discussion) on the continued reshaping of the mental health system at a time of economic constraint, health policy contestation and political devolution.
I’ve given myself something of a challenge in attempting all this in a single concurrent session, but I’ll do my best and can signpost interested participants to papers I have published in these areas. One of my reasons for heading off to the Horatio event (in Malta, as it happens) is to make connections with international colleagues, with whom I might usefully share my projects, interests and ideas and perhaps find common ground.
In 1999 I wrote a paper for the journal Health and Social Care in the Community titled Joint working in community mental health: prospects and challenges. The back story is that the work for this article was mostly done during my first year of part-time study for an MA in Health and Social Policy, during my time working as a community mental health nurse in East London.
Frustratingly, I can’t find my original wordprocessed copy of this paper from which to create a green open access version for uploading to the Orca repository and for embedding a link to here. But not to worry. The abstract, at least, is a freebie:
This paper reviews the opportunities for, and the challenges facing, joint working in the provision of community mental health care. At a strategic level the organization of contemporary mental health services is marked by fragmentation, competing priorities, arbitrary divisions of responsibility, inconsistent policy, unpooled resources and unshared boundaries. At the level of localities and teams, these barriers to effective and efficient joint working reverberate within multi-disciplinary and multi-agency community mental health teams (CMHTs). To meet this challenge, CMHT operational policies need to include multiagency agreement on: professional roles and responsibilities; target client groups; eligibility criteria for access to services; client pathways to and from care; unified systems of case management; documentation and use of information technology; and management and accountability arrangements. At the level of practitioners, community mental health care is provided by professional groups who may have limited mutual understanding of differing values, education, roles and responsibilities. The prospect of overcoming these barriers in multidisciplinary CMHTs is afforded by increased opportunities for interprofessional ‘seepage’ and a sharing of complementary perspectives, and for joint education and training. This review suggests that policy-driven solutions to the challenges facing integrated community mental health care may be needed and concludes with an overview of the prospects for change contained in the previous UK government’s Green Paper, ‘Developing Partnerships in Mental Health’.
In my article I drew attention to the problem of competing policies and priorities for NHS and local authority organisations, the lack of shared organisational boundaries, non-integrated information technology systems and separate pathways bringing service users into, through and out of the system. An illustrative example I gave was the parallel introduction, in the early 1990s, of the care programme approach (CPA) and care management. Here in Wales, with the introduction of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure there is now, at least, a single care and treatment plan (CTP) to be used with all people using secondary mental health services. But how many health and social care organisations in Wales and beyond have managed to integrate their information systems? This, I suspect, remains an idea for the future.
And then there are the distinctions, and the relationships, between the various occupational groups involved in community mental health care. In my Joint working paper I emphasised the differences in values, education and practice between (for example) nurses and social workers, and (perhaps rather glibly) suggested that the route to better interprofessional practice lay through clearer operational policies at team level. Getting mental health professionals to work differently together became, for a time at least, something of a policymakers’ priority in the years following my article’s appearance. Here I’m thinking of the idea of distributed responsibility, and ‘new ways of working’ more generally, of which more can be found in this post and in this analysis of recent mental health policy trends (for green open access papers associated with both these earlier posts, follow this link and this link).
Two other things strike me when I look back on this 1999 article and reflect on events in the time elapsing. First is how much I underemphasised, then, the importance and influence of the service user movement. Over 15 years much looks to have been gained on this front, and I detect improved opportunities now for people using services to be involved in decisions about their care. Services have oriented to the idea of promoting recovery, as opposed to responding solely to people’s difficulties and deficits. This all takes me neatly to COCAPP and Plan4Recovery, two current studies in which I am involved which are investigating these very things in everyday practice. Second, I realise how little I foresaw in the late 1990s the changes then about to happen in the organisation of community mental health teams. Not long after my paper appeared crisis resolution, early intervention, assertive outreach and primary care mental health teams sprung into being across large parts of the country. More recent evidence suggests a rolling back of some of these developments in a new era of austerity.
And what of the community mental health system’s opportunities and challenges for the fifteen years which lie ahead? Perhaps there’s space here for an informed, speculative, paper picking up on some of the threads identified in my Joint working piece and in this revisiting blog. But that’s for another day.