By Suzanne Traynor @traynors
Associate Professor of Mental Health (Practice) at Middlesex University
My Care Academy
World Mental Health Day on Thursday 10th October 2019 is an opportunity to unite in our work to improve mental health care, and this year the theme is suicide prevention.
This year, on World Mental Health Day, let us come together to:
- Improve awareness of the significance of suicide;
- Improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide;
- Reduce the stigma associated with suicide;
- Let people know that they are not alone and support is available.
Ensuring safe care for service users on in-patient wards is a key priority for all mental health services, and recognising the importance of our relationship with service users is the starting point for ensuring that care is always safe.
For acutely unwell service users who are at risk of harming themselves, a key part of their care plan often involves providing enhanced levels of observation in order to keep them safe. These varying levels of observation should always be tailored to meet their individual needs and reviewed regularly. This ensures that the service user is being cared for in the least restrictive manner and involved in all discussions regarding their care.
The practice of supportive observation is defined as:
“Regarding the service user attentively whilst minimising the extent to which they feel that they are under surveillance.” (MHNLD Forum, 2018).
By engaging with the service user and having an understanding of their needs and what matters to them, we can ensure that our observations are seen as supportive. However, it is widely recognised that the current process can feel intrusive for service users, and it is clear that staff need to be confident and competent in their interpersonal skills to develop and maintain a positive relationship with the service user.
In collaboration with staff, service users and the My Care Academy team, we have developed a bespoke unit of eLearning created to meet the learning needs of all staff working on mental health in-patient wards in Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust and Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. These are tailored to each Trust and both are available to access on ESR.
The focus of these eLearning units includes best practice in carrying out enhanced observations, as well as an exploration of the importance of developing positive relationships with service users. We have included signposting to other resources and learning materials, and the unit can be access and reviewed by both individuals and teams.
To access your eLearning unit, simply log onto your ESR account where you’ll find it alongside your other learning titles. Let us know what you think by tweeting us @mycareacademy and don’t forget to join the worldwide conversation about suicide prevention on twitter using the hashtag #WorldMentalHealthDay on October 10th!