Written by Cath Coleman
Co-Founder, Niche Jobs
Returning from working in Australia for ten years, I knew there would be many changes to the NHS wards I first worked in as a Mental Health Nurse (RMN)
. Closures of several wards and centralisation of mental health services in my area left the remaining wards under increasing pressure for beds, and services were stretched.
Back in England, I found a new way of staffing the wards that provided the patients with better care and an improved outlook for their recovery.
The Therapeutic Staffing Model was implemented in the Mental Health Trust where I began working. This model moved away from shifts run by an RMN, supported by Healthcare Assistants (HCA)
working a 24-hour roster, with allied health professionals working only 9-5 on weekdays.
Recognising that patients need therapeutic input into the evening and at weekends, the allied health staff, such as Occupational Therapists (OT)
and Psychologists also work on a roster. This allows evening and weekend groups and activities that would previously only take place weekdays, 9-5.
The ward roster included RMNs, HCAs, OTs, and Psychologists, and the whole team were involved in planning activities so each professional could take part in different groups.
The rationale behind this is an improvement in patient-focused care planning with a multi-disciplinary approach that allows the patients to play an active role in their recovery and discharge from hospital.
Having OTs and psychologists available seven days a week allows nursing staff to focus on nursing roles, such as medication, care planning, and risk assessment, while the HCAs can support the RMNs.
There is often some overlap between the roles when nurses get involved in group activities, or the OT develops a care plan with a patient, but this just reinforces the effectiveness of the team working together for the patients’ wellbeing.
There are some downsides, mainly that groups are sometimes unable to go ahead due to high acuity on the ward and the allied health staff would assist the nurses and HCAs with more mundane tasks.
Staff sometimes complained that their skills were not being fully utilised, and were instead serving lunches or calling patients for medication.
Despite this, I felt this staffing model was proactive and beneficial for patients who have been admitted to an acute inpatient ward and in need of support from a variety of professionals.
By providing therapies on the ward, patients are recovering faster and being discharged home, reducing the pressure on beds.