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Doing the rounds at a mental health trust
Last week, I was invited by a mental health trust to attend one of their weekly ward rounds. As an observer, I was overwhelmed by the professionalism, quality of care and commitment of the nurses, doctors, safeguarding and care specialists.
The setting, a series of dedicated buildings in a built-up area, provides care and treatment to hundreds of patients with a range of needs. But with limited capacity across the facility, it became clear that patients needed to be seen quickly and with a clear exit strategy in mind, liaising with external agencies to continue support outside of the trust.
The ward I was to observe hosted just 18 beds, with distinct rooms for men and women, separated by a communal area. The atmosphere during rounds was calm, with doctors and nurses playing an authoritative, yet supportive role for patients. Even when faced with a potentially hostile situation, the team maintained their cool and provided the same levels of support and reassurance to the patient.
Case files were discussed between the professionals –ranged from drug and alcohol abuse, to schizophrenia and depression – with a focus on medication and the best short-term treatment path for the patient.
During a family face-to-face assessment, the mastery of the Medical director and his team became clear as they brought together, with unflinching professionalism and compassion, a patient and their worried family to discuss their recent and uneasy experiences.
In witnessing the mechanics behind world-class mental health care, it has brought home to me the critical balancing act between the formidable infrastructure that is already in place to protect and help patients, and the skills and team-work that provides individuals with the treatment and support to help overcome, or indeed cope longer term, with their mental health needs.
Mental health in 2016 has changed considerably from the once mis-understood arena, plagued by misplaced social stigmatism. Our attention must be drawn to the individuals, the professionals who dedicate their life to these services. By securing a world class staff of mental health professionals across the UK we can better utilise the vast infrastructure that is currently failing to adequately support a high percentage of individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
SJ Leatherdale, Partner, Odgers Interim Management