Written by Cath Coleman
Co-Founder, Niche Jobs
Over recent years, research and initiatives within mental health have demonstrated a need for NHS Trusts to focus on patients’ experiences when accessing services. The NHS Constitution includes principles and values that prioritise the patient and support the person to be involved in their care, and ensure that both are treated with respect and dignity. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also provides best practice guidance for clinicians to improve the experiences of people treated in NHS mental health services. This guidance takes into account the patients’ needs and preferences.But what does person centred care really mean, and how does it affect our work as an RMN?Being able to put the patient or client at the centre of their care allows the nurse to fully understand and work effectively with that person. Focusing the care and treatment around the needs of the individual rather than the needs of the service means the patient is an equal partner in decision making. Most people would not allow health professionals to simply make decisions about their healthcare without consultation, as they have their own views and opinions about what treatment is best for them. Allowing patients to be involved in those decisions helps empower them and increases the likelihood of treatment being successful.However, it is important to be aware that in mental health settings, patients may have mental health problems or conditions such as dementia that can affect their decision-making skills and may lead them to make poor choices about their health or care. When we assess a patient, it is important that we listen to their concerns and take into account what they want from the treatment they are receiving. We must also provide an explanation of the care plan and what treatment will be provided. This process ensures we always have the person’s wellbeing in mind and enables the building of trust between the nurse and patient, which in turn may improve the treatment outcomes as the patient is more likely to accept the treatment that has been discussed.Working in mental health, safety must always be a priority; whether it is the safety of the patient, their family, or the staff. However, sometimes we must put safety concerns before the wishes of a patient if we feel someone may be at risk. This can be challenging, but we are bound by the code of conduct to provide safe and effective care and are accountable for our actions at work.