Project hands back power to patients



Our ‘winner of winners’ at the recent staff Excellence awards is a project that’s creating a culture change and empowering patients who have been detained under the Mental Health Act.

The entry was submitted by the team from our adult acute mental health Trinity 1 ward who are based at Fieldhead Hospital. As well as being overall winner, the service won the team ‘co-production and involvement’ award.

Trinity 1 is a psychiatric intensive care unit and provides inpatient care for people who are in crisis who cannot live safely in their home environment. When a patient is admitted a member of staff sits down with them and goes through a booklet containing a questionnaire about their mental health. Questions include “how do you feel?” and “how would you like us to deal with you if you become agitated?” Using the booklet gives the team the patient’s perspective and is used to co-create a care plan focused on the individual’s needs.

As the 14 patients on the ward are the most unwell within the trust area this is by its nature a restrictive environment; but the My Mental Health project has helped make a real difference by effecting a culture change and empowering patients. Co-creating care plans with patients has given them more say in their day to day lives, meaning less violence and aggression from them. The booklet has helped service users take further control of their inpatient admission and how their distress and symptoms are managed whilst in hospital. It is enabling staff and service users to work together to create a plan to manage their mental health. Service users have been able to offer staff advice on how best to manage their presentation based on their past experiences of being unwell and them having knowledge of what has worked for them in the past This in turn has meant less use of seclusion.

The results have made a huge difference both to patients and staff in their day-to-day lives. Before the questionnaires were introduced just 14% of care plans had been co-created, but the most recent audit shows that this has risen to 57% – a huge increase. The total number of incidents within the unit has dropped by 78%. Inappropriate violent/aggressive behaviour from patients has also reduced.

The “My mental health” booklet is so simple and easy to use that it could be replicated in virtually any organisation. The project fits in with the national strategy of Safewards which is aimed to reduce the use of restrictive interventions within mental health settings.

Tim Breedon, director of nursing and quality, said: “This is a really interesting innovation in compassionate care. What we are doing is handing a degree of power back to patients who have been detained under the Mental Health Act instead of simply deciding as professionals what to do.”

Project hands back power to patients

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