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Carers of individuals presenting with complex behavioural and mental health needs report that service users may not receive the provision of care they require, particularly when presenting following suicide attempts and self-harm. Carers are an integral part of the care system and often feel ignored and marginalised by services; there is a lack of involvement of carers and paucity of their views of support needs to be explored. The aim of the study is to understand carers’ experiences of caring for service users with complex mental health needs who self-harm and/or attempt suicide, and the support received from mental health care services.
Ten carers of service users with complex mental health needs were interviewed about their views on the psychiatric admission, treatment and discharge process for the people they were caring for. Data were gathered during semi-structured, one-to-one interviews remotely over the phone or online platforms. Interviews were audio-recoded and transcribed verbatim. A transcript-based conceptual analysis was conducted to identify and explore emerging themes.
Carers identified both positive and negative aspects of the psychiatric admission and care within community settings. The following key themes emerged from the interviews: lack of control and information from mental health services, the importance of support from staff, or conversely its absence; concerns about service users’ vulnerability, negative staff attitudes and opportunities for involvement; negative experiences of generic psychiatric settings; positive experiences were encountered when there were supportive and caring staff, good information sharing and satisfactory discharge arrangements.
Important areas for service improvements are highlighted. Recommendations included: the need for support; information about suicidal behaviour and advice on managing further incidents at home; more support in coping with regular and escalating self-harming and suicidal behaviours, particularly, severe consequences of staff safeguarding errors and inappropriate discharge, and the importance of supportive and adept staff. These findings identify the need for tailored support for carers regarding the management of self-harm and suicidal behaviours in the community.
Individuals presenting with complex behavioural and mental health needs may not receive the provision of care needed. Those presenting with a more complex clinical presentation may have a history of self-harm and suicide attempts. A common risk factor for preceding suicide is previous self-harm, suicide attempts or discharge from inpatient units. Understanding the descriptive symptom domains for inpatients and those treated in the community and the relationship between them could inform suicide prevention. The aim of this study was to explore the extent of self-harm and suicidal behaviours in individuals with complex mental health needs across inpatient and community settings.
A cohort study design of in-depth written medical notes (n = 80) for people who were known to have complex mental health needs across inpatient and community settings. Data were extracted from medical records onto a coproduced questionnaire. As well as demographic data, information was collated about previous self-harm, suicide planning, suicide attempts, and support seeking regarding suicidal thoughts. The study will include a quantitative in-depth description and inferential analysis of the demographic clinical characteristics of the patient group.
Medical case notes were reviewed for 80 service users with complex mental health needs. Across both groups, approximately three-quarters of participants had previously self-harmed (76%), or planned suicide (n = 73%), and/or attempted suicide (63%). Self-harm (83% vs. 70%) and suicide attempts (72% vs. 65%) were more prevalent in the inpatient group compared to the community group. Social support was received more by community patients than inpatients (70% vs. 50%), even though inpatients were more likely to sough help when experiencing suicidal thoughts compared to people cared for in the community (38% vs. 30%). In both groups, there were often multiple suicide plans and attempts made over their timeline of contact with services.
Self-harm, suicide planning, and suicide attempts were prevalent for people treated across both inpatient and community settings. Self-harm and suicide planning was indicative of a later suicide attempt within both settings. In those experiencing suicidal thoughts, few had sought help, suggesting the importance in staff training to enable then to recognise and identify patterns of self-harming and suicidal behaviours in individuals with complex mental health needs. Social support needs for inpatients should be increased, particularly when they sought help for suicidal thoughts. This may help to reduce length of stays in hospital or future readmissions to hospital; thus, reducing the cost implications for the NHS mental health services.
Little is known about the experiences of individuals presenting with complex mental health needs and the provision of care they receive for suicide and self-harm behaviours. There are limited data describing the support individuals receive from services and, where they do, how this support is provided. Research suggests that those presenting with a more complex clinical presentation may have a history of both suicide attempts and self-harm. The aim of the study is to explore the experiences of individuals with complex mental health needs in respect of their self-harm and suicidal behaviours, and experiences of support received from mental health care services.
A semi-structured interview methodology was used to generate qualitative data. Representative participants with complex mental health needs were recruited from across Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, UK. Ten participants were interviewed for the study. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A transcript-based conceptual analysis was conducted to identify and explore emerging themes.
The following three themes emerged from the service user interviews: (i) Service users discussed suicide attempts following inappropriate discharge; Service users spoke about feeling unsupported and not listened to by care staff, particularly as inpatients; and (ii) Service users expressed a necessity for staff training to improve understanding of self-harm and suicide attempts, having experienced negative consequences of staff handling when they may have self-harmed.
This study highlighted the following recommendations for future suicide prevention for mental health services treating service users with complex mental health needs: increasing staff awareness of suicide or self-harm related issues; improving training and risk assessment skills; providing appropriate support for service users following discharge from inpatient settings; improving liaison and collaboration between services to provide better service user outcomes; and increasing awareness in listening to service users’ distress about suicidal or self-harm thoughts for each individual's situational context.
We present outcomes of a newly developed Community Rehabilitation team (MhIST) using the context of Jen's personal story. Jen is a 31-year-old student and freelance journalist. This story encompasses her journey from inpatient rehabilitation services to the community, completed with support from MhIST.
“For nearly four years, I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act as an inpatient in hospital. As I had been denied my fundamental liberties for so long, the prospect of leaving hospital for good and enjoying total freedom was both exhilarating and terrifying. How would I fare in the community, living on my own? Would I be lonely? Would I relapse? Would I survive?”
Upon leaving hospital, I immediately received intensive support from MhIST. They were the bridge between the gulf that was hospital and the community. Since leaving hospital, I have been relishing my freedom. I enjoy meeting up with my friends after so long apart. I have volunteered at The Storyhouse, a local arts venue. The Spider Project – a non-clinical community mental health service in Chester - has also provided me with fulfilling activities from yoga to creative writing. The MHIST team have not only kept me well but, most importantly, helped me thrive. Leaving hospital has been an adventure. It has been a joy to regain my independence and freedom. To live rather than to exist. Life is amazing. Long may it continue.”
MhIST provides an intensive rehabilitation and recovery service, delivering bespoke packages of care to individuals. This is achieved using key working and a shared team approach, outcome focused goal-based interventions, weekly reflective/formulation meetings, and a focus on social rehabilitation. Patients referred to MhIST will have a high level of complexity plus severe, treatment refractory symptoms, with impaired social, interpersonal and occupational function and high support needs. They may have co-occurring mental health conditions including substance misuse or neurodevelopmental disorders.
MhIST is a new service and has been active for around 6 months. The first 10 patients referred have been from acute wards (3), community mental health teams (1), and inpatient rehabilitation wards (6). 60% of patients are currently housed in independent accommodation.
Jen's story narrates the experience she encountered during transition from inpatient rehabilitation services to the community. This was completed with support from MhIST, a new community rehabilitation service which provides an intensive rehabilitation and recovery service.
Mental health services for adults have been developed to provide community-based interventions. There is a recognized unmet need in some of the most complex patients that may not be adequately met by existing mental health services provision. Research is warranted to consider the best model of service delivery for this group of service users. The aims of this research were to examine the profile and history of service users defined as having complex needs as well as their service use and associated costs in the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP).
A diverse group of stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on the content and design of the proforma for data collection from the medical records of service users. The rationale of the data collection was described to ensure relevant patient-level cost information was collected to identify and quantify the relevant resources consumed, to inform the evaluation of direct medical costs, direct non-medical costs, and indirect costs for each patient. The proforma was designed to also permit comparisons of clinical and service use outcomes for evaluation of patient health and non-health outcomes associated with alternative care pathways.
Stakeholder feedback comprised representatives from the CWP, patients, commissioners, the Local Authority, and housing. Relevant data for extraction from patient medical records were identified and a proforma was developed. The following items were identified for inclusion: baseline demographic data, service user data (family background, contact with the criminal justice system, social history), and clinical data (diagnosis, treatment, hospital visits, and other health service use).
A proforma was developed with diverse stakeholder involvement to inform data collection on the resource use and cost impact associated with alternative care pathways in the National Health Service and other sectors of the economy. Based on the proforma developed and data extracted, an exploration of patient health and non-health outcomes associated with alternative care pathways will be conducted to inform service evaluation and to promote patient centric care.
Co-production recognises that people who use social care services (and their families) and third sector organisations within community settings have knowledge and experience that can be used to help make services better for services users and those who care for them. This study shares the coproduction that took place in the design of a mixed methods study that aims to understand: the profile and history of service users currently defined as having complex needs; the decision-making processes by clinicians that lead to these individuals entering this complex group; service users and carers experience of service use; and, the associated costs. This study involves a comprehensive evaluation that aims to inform an evidence-based service delivery model for mental health service users with complex needs.
A study stakeholder group, including clinicians, academics, service users, housing associations, health economists, and statisticians was formed from the outset to inform the mixed methods design, combining quantitative (in-depth analysis of patient records and economic evaluation) and qualitative (written medical notes and in-depth interviews with service users, carers, and clinicians) methods. The study included five components: (1) a quantitative description and analysis of the demographic clinical characteristics of the patient group; (2) an economic evaluation of direct medical costs, direct non-medical costs, and indirect costs for each patient; (3) semi-structured interviews about patients and carers experiences; (4) data from components 1-3 was used to co-produce vignettes jointly with the stakeholders group; and, (5) semi-structured interviews about clinical decision-making by clinicians in relation to this patient group by using the vignettes as example case studies.
Coproduction took place at each stage of the study, including the design, development of data collection tools, data analysis and formation of the vignettes required for stage five. The results demonstrated how co-production and multiagency working have been evident throughout the process of designing the study, the continuous engagement throughout the analysis, dissemination and implementation of the findings.
The findings support the application of the core principles of co-production in the design, set-up and implementation of research within an NHS Trust as demonstrable by the acceptability and collaborative working within the study. The study's key outcomes were to: examine the resource use and cost impact associated with alternative care pathways to the NHS and other sectors of the economy (including social care); explore patient health and non-health outcomes associated with alternative care pathways; and, gain an understanding of a complex service user group and how decisions are made in their treatment to inform how services are delivered in the future and made more person-centred and consistent.
Serious incidents according to NHS England (2015) are incidents where the consequences to patients, families and carers, staff or organisations are so significant or potential for learning are so great that a heightened response is justified. There is anectoctal evidence that this process is potentially difficult for junior doctors and the primary purpose of learning may be lost due to the stress involved.
Our aim was to evaluate junior doctors perspective of serious incident reviews. A secondary aim was to organise local and regional workshops based on the outcome of our findings to address misconceptions around serious incident investigations.
A survey was developed using survey monkey and distributed to all trainees across the Mersey region through the Medical Education teams.
The junior doctors range from core trainees to higher trainees. The survey encouraged the use of free texting if necessary.
Results from the survey were then analysed
18 junior doctors across the 3 mental health Trusts in the Mersey region responded.
12 respondents have been involved in a serious incident investigation in the past and 9 of the respondents stated that they did not recieve any support during the process. Out of the 3 that were supported, one rated the support as poor and frightening.
55.56% af all respondents found the process of serious incident reviews hard to understand.
66% of all respondents admitted that they are aware that the purpose of the review is for learning purposes.
100% of respondents agreed that a workshop to discuss the purpose and process of serious incidents investigation to aid their understanding would be useful.
From the survey, we concluded that junior doctors do have some understanding of incident reviews process but they still do not feel comfortable with the idea of being under ‘investigation'.
It is also important that formal support is made available during the process.
We organised a workshop in one of the 3 Trusts which was well attended and junior doctors asked if they could sit on review panels for experiential learning. This is to be presented to govenance teams across the mental health trusts in the region.
Further workshop across the 2 remaining Trusts could not be organised due to COVID-19 pandemic.
To increase participation in the 2019 UK general election amongst inpatients on a high intensity rehabilitation ward, by supporting patients to both register to vote (RTV) and vote.
In 2000, the franchise was extended to those under section 2 or 3 as well as informal inpatients. Unfortunately, voting rates remain low: studies of the 2010 general election show voting rates amongst psychiatric inpatients to be 14%, compared to 65% for the general population. Engaging patients in the democratic process is not only just, it has been shown to be an effective avenue for rehabilitation through increasing social capital. The 2019 UK general election represents a singular opportunity for biopsychosocial rehabilitation.
In the three weeks up until 26/11/19 – the deadline to RTV – visual displays and verbal information were used to notify patients of:
The need to RTV before casting a ballot
The registration deadline
Voting methods (in person, by post, by proxy)
We gathered patients’ intention to RTV and offered impartial, personalised support to register online or by paper, and to apply for a postal or proxy ballot if wished. Patients with no fixed abode were supported to use the ward as their declared place of residence.
Of the 17 patients on the ward there were:
Four informal patients
11 patients under section 3
One patient each under a section 37 and a section 37/41, both ineligible to vote
Of the 15 eligible patients, one (6.7%) had already registered, six patients (40%) wanted to register and eight (53.3%) stated they did not want to register. Those wanting to register were supported according to individual patient preference. Of the registered seven, five (33.3%) reported voting, one (6.7%) reported not having voted and one (6.7%) declined to say. Two (13.3%) voted in person and five (33.3%) voted by postal ballot.
Our intervention corresponded with an increase in number of patients registering – from one patient (6.7%) to seven (46.7%), with 5-6 (33.3-40%) casting their ballot. While the causal relationship should not be overstated, the uptake of assistance supports the intervention's efficacy.
Good rehabilitation increases a person's social capital, empowering them to actively participate in societal life. Registering to vote is a tacit assertion of this principle. Our study shows that brief interventions that are easily incorporated into everyday care are a simple, effective and ultimately necessary tool in holistic mental health rehabilitation.
There is evidence that changing diagnoses may be an important factor preceding homicide, but there is little literature on diagnostic antecedents to admission to specialist secure units after violent behaviour. Our aim was to establish the frequency of a history of changing diagnoses in patients in a UK specialist unit, and to explore the characteristics of these patients.
In total, 38 of 42 study participants had prior contact with psychiatric services. Just over 40% (16 of the 38) had had their diagnosis changed three or more times. All those who had major changes in their diagnosis had received a diagnosis of a psychotic illness at some point prior to the secure unit admission, but then had it withdrawn, only to be restored after prolonged assessment in the secure unit. Personality disorder and substance misuse comorbidity was common in this group; however, non-psychotic diagnoses were seen as more important than psychotic diagnoses by general services.
Changes in diagnosis between first presentation to psychiatric services and admission to a medium-security unit were more common than would be expected from reports in the general literature. They are a testimony to the difficulties experienced by service providers in delivering a consistent service. This needs to be studied further.
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