Good care needs good nurses

Today Mind launched their campaign for better crisis and acute care.

They’ve asked me to say a few words on the Mind blog, where I’ve emphasised the need to attract good quality, therapeutically-minded nurses to acute psychiatric wards in order to drive up standards and challenge poor practice.


Crisis in Mental Health Care

Crisis Care in Mental Health – both community and inpatient –  is inconsistent and increasingly unable to deliver quality services.  Mind published a report today following an independent inquiry which they have carried out called ‘Listening to Experience’. This inquiry looked at evidence from 400 patients, professionals and providers and was intended to provide a qualitative shapshot of care in England.

While the press release points out that some outstandingly good levels of care were reported, it is useful to note some of the main points of criticism that were raised.

When looking at some of the examples cited in the statement from Mind, it’s hard to separate these issues from the agenda of cuts that is currently underway in public services and despite the government’s vehement denial that this is not going to lead to reductions in clinical staff, all I can say is that on the ground, I see it happening with my own eyes.

We have, and this is personal experience, wards closing, staff with redundancy hanging over them, downgrading of professionals and replacing qualified staff with unqualified staff. These are not management posts. These are all clinical posts. Staff remaining are pushed further and yes, eligibility is rising and service delivery is reaching a smaller group of people.
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Adoption Is Not Meant To Be Simple

Following National Adoption Week, the movement for change is gathering momentum. Yet following last week’s debate in parliament, I retain my doubts about the direction of travel.

Members from all sides praised the efforts of adopters and for that matter foster carers too. There was cross-party agreement that there were no straightforward answers because the system unavoidably meshes different organisations and professions, such as the court and social services, and to be fair there was little direct criticism of social workers themselves and acknowledgement that they themselves are frustrated with delays in the system.

Speakers from all parties took their cue from the Prime Minister’s comments during questions at the beginning of NAW:

“the Government pledge that we will make the process of adoption and fostering simpler. It has become too bureaucratic and difficult, and the result is that it is putting people off.”
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Rethinking Personal Budgets in Social Care

Reading Community Care, I saw that NLGN (New Local Government Network) have published a report stating that the ‘rush towards personal budgets’ must be slowed down.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find this report on the NLGN website but haven’t been able to do so am reliant on the third party reports from Community Care but I thought it raised a number of issues that are worth pondering.

The author of the report, Daria Kutsnetsova says in the article

.. in a lot of cases, personal budgets do not mean choice and control for service users because people are not given the choice of direct payments. Their budgets are handled by a care manager, which can be a choice in the personal budgets system, but in many cases it is not a choice and people are receiving the same care they were always receiving, she said.

It’s just called a ‘personal budget’ to push this government target,” she added.  (my emphasis)

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Enjoy earthy body smells! Meet a homosexual! Make “far out” friends!

While browsing through various assessment scales I came across the Sensation Seeking Scale (Word document), a psychological tool published in 1971 for identifying personality traits that make people prone to risk-taking, experience-seeking or disinhibited behaviour. It asks the individual to choose between two different statements and decide which applies more to them. For example,

1.A I like “wild” uninhibited parties.
B I prefer quiet parties with good conversation.

Oh yes, and there’s lots of quotation marks in the questions, to the point that you feel like putting down the pen at intervals to do air quotes with your fingers.

I’m finding it an absolutely fascinating artefact – not so much for what it’s telling me about psychology, but what it says about how times have changed in what’s considered risky (or risque!) behaviour. Bizarrely, I’m told some professionals still recommend this as an assessment tool. Anyway, let’s delve in and find out whether we’re sensation seekers or not.
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On Trolling for a Living

Can there be any more pointless occupation than being a “professional contrarian”? I just don’t get it. Surely the purpose of a writer is to say something interesting or informative, rather than just coming up with the most facile disagree-with-everything bile purely for the sake of getting a reader reaction? Okay, I can understand there might be a certain thrill one can get from it, but personally it’s not for me. Maybe it’s because my parents gave me attention when I was a child.

Yes, I’ve been reading articles by Brendan O’Neill, the Telegraph columnist and editor of Spiked Online, the website for upper-middle class media types to massage their victim complexes.
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Is the CQC fit for purpose?

There was an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday about the Care Quality Commission which was set up as a new regulatory body for health and social care in 2009.

The CQC is headed by Cynthia Bower at a salary of £195,000 pa who was previously the Chief Executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority – responsible for Stafford Hospital at the time it was found to have been providing substandard care.

How she was able to take post at the CQC is quite staggering to me, as an outsider but there she is, responsible for the regulation of health and adult social care services. You’d think it was the opening of a black comedy. Maybe it is.

There are some chilling facts that the Guardian have uncovered and they deserve repeating – over and over again – because the CQC is responsible for the regulation – not only of hospitals but of every care home and domiciliary care agency in England.
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