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To compare the usage of remote consultations before and after the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and explore mental health workers’ views on the usage of telemedicine.
An online questionnaire survey was developed, and disseminated to mental healthcare professionals via e-mail and social media. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data were analysed using Braun and Clarke's six step procedure for thematic analysis.1
There were 40 responses from mental healthcare professionals of varying grades from different sub-specialties, predominantly from the UK. Compared to before the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, there was an increase in usage of telephone (9(22.5% to (29)72.5%) and video consultations (4(10%) to 17(42.5%)). Respondents reported an increase in virtual MDTs (35(87.5%) during the pandemic, 9(22.5%) pre-pandemic).
Based on a 5-point Likert scale, the mean technical quality of telephone consultations was 3.56/5 (Range 2-5), with 75% rating telephone consultations as not being as good as face-to-face consultations. The mean technical quality of video consultations was 3.58/5 (Range 2-5), with 63% rating video consultations as not being as good as face-to-face consultations. 25 (62.5%) respondents felt comfortable using telephone consultations during the pandemic, 20(50%) felt comfortable using video consultations. Recurring themes identified from the qualitative data regarding reasons for the technical quality ratings were: connection issues, poor infrastructure and security concerns.
Nine (23%) respondents felt that using video conferencing consultations had a detrimental impact on the mental health of patients while 14(35%) felt that telephone consultations had a detrimental impact on patients’ mental health. Recurring themes for health practitioners’ perceived effect of the use of telemedicine on patients’ mental heath were the loss of personal touch and reduced patient engagement.
There was a substantial increase in usage of remote consultations during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic among mental healthcare professionals. The results reported in the present study suggest there are numerous barriers to the use of telemedicine in psychiatry, which require future exploration, ideally through interview or ethnographic studies.
A significant number of people with autism require in-patient psychiatric care. Although the requirement to adequately meet the needs of people with autism in these settings is enshrined in UK law and supported by national guidelines, little information is available on current practice.
To describe characteristics of UK in-patient psychiatric settings admitting people with autism. Also to examine psychiatric units for their suitability, and the resultant impact on admission length and restrictive interventions.
Multiple-choice questions about in-patient settings and their ability to meet the needs of people with autism and the impact on their outcomes were developed as a cross-sectional study co-designed with a national autism charity. The survey was distributed nationally, using an exponential and non-discriminatory snowballing technique, to in-patient unit clinicians to provide a current practice snapshot.
Eighty responses were analysed after excluding duplications, from across the UK. Significant variation between units across all enquired parameters exist. Lack of autism-related training and skills across staff groups was identified, this becoming disproportionate when comparing intellectual disability units with general mental health units particularly regarding psychiatrists working in these units (psychiatrists: 94% specialist skills in intellectual disability units versus 6% specialist skills in general mental health units). In total, 28% of survey respondents felt people with autism are more likely to be subject to seclusion and 40% believed in-patients with autism are likely to end in segregation.
There is no systematic approach to supporting people with autism who are admitted to in-patient psychiatric units. Significant concerns are highlighted of lack of professional training and skill sets resulting in variable clinical practice and care delivery underpinned by policy deficiency. This could account for the reported in-patient outcomes of longer stay and segregation experienced by people with autism.
We undertook a cross-sectional service evaluation of the reasons and extent of delay in the discharge process in an intellectual disability hospital over a 12-month period. Delays at each stage of the discharge process are also quantified in this study.
We found that discharge was delayed for 29% of patients during the study period. The majority (78.5%) was due to awaiting completion of assessment of future care needs and waiting for public funding.
Commissioners (health and social), provider trusts, regulators and community providers should consider the reasons for delay in the discharge process and adopt a whole systems approach to discharge planning. This is highly relevant in light of recommendations by the Department of Health following the Winterbourne View scandal, which has raised concern about patients staying in intellectual disability in-patient units too long and for the wrong reasons.
Payment by results (PbR) for mental health services is currently being piloted with the aim of arriving at a national tariff for mental health by 2013/2014. The Department of Health has also established two pilot sites to consider applicability of PbR for learning disability services. This article outlines the concept of PbR in learning disability services and describes the progress of the pilot work being undertaken in this area.
Psychological treatments are widely used for the management of mental health
and behavioural problems in people with intellectual disabilities. The
evidence base, including the cost-effectiveness of such interventions, is
limited. This editorial explores the current evidence base and analyses its
strengths and limitations. The editorial also highlights current problems in
conducting randomised controlled trials in this area and suggests a way
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