As some of you will know, yesterday was the newly established ‘Mental Health Nurses Day’ and I wanted to start this week’s blog by paying tribute to our colleagues working in that particular nursing discipline.
Surprisingly perhaps it was only decided last year to make it a regular thing, but it’s fair to say that the 12 months from last February until now have finally and firmly cemented the public’s awareness of mental health. It should always have had parity with physical health but I’m proud of our own Trust’s work in pushing this agenda.
Nursing numbers may be rising but there remains a mental health recruitment shortfall here, as there are in several nursing disciplines. We’re at the highest nursing figures since 2014 but I know that’s still a challenging place to be. The effects of COVID-19 will still be felt long after most physical symptoms have reduced and the worst of the pandemic has receded. Indeed, without really great mental health nursing and support, the ‘business as usual’ element of recovery will be harder than we think.
I’ve used this blog to highlight many of our professions and colleagues, and it’s fair to say that every single person wearing an NHS badge has helped us through COVID-19 this year, from wards to offices, from laboratory to community. Your innovation, care and professionalism have been humbling, but I’d particularly like to single out our mental health nurses for choosing a profession that involves caring for patients and those around them when they are often at their most fragile.
At Mersey Care we’re continuing to offer opportunities for staff to train, further develop and access university study with the advanced clinical practitioner courses. We’re also part of a pan-Mersey programme looking at international recruitment opportunities to further support our workforce. Our work in supporting and growing our own includes investing in 136 associate nurses, 20 of whom have already qualified.
Those of you active on social media will also have seen #MHNursingDay online this weekend – and to see our great staff celebrating their vocation too. It's vital that, as we emerge from the pandemic, the voice of mental health nursing needs to be heard and represented.
Mental health has, of course, been the subject of great discussion recently while we fully appreciate the psychological effects of the pandemic. As part of that debate, I’d like to update you about the Zero Suicide Alliance. As chair and co-founder of the ZSA, I’m both pleased by its success and humbled that its simple premise remains so resonant. If expecting zero deaths by suicide is an unreasonable ambition, what number should we accept?
The ZSA continue to produce valuable resources and to date more than 1.5 million people have accessed their free suicide awareness training modules. Their Life Matters podcast series continues to grow with episode three just out - and I’d recommend them all. We’re currently in LGBT history month so it’s fitting there’s a focus this time on the impact of suicide on LGBTQI+ people and lived experience from a bisexual journalist. These resources are available to all and it would be great if you could share them with your contacts. In addition within our own Trust, interactive workshops are being held next week to mark the close of LGBT history month.
These are examples of the extra distance Mersey Care goes. The ZSA, our active staff networks, our leading work on culture, our innovation – there are many others to be pleased and positive about. As the Mersey Care family grows, and this year we will see significant expansion, I’d like us all to use the wider networks to reach out to our new colleagues and services and allow their skills and experiences to enrich our own.
Credit where it’s due
Today I’ve been on a socially distanced visit to our superb new medium secure hospital, Rowan View. I was delighted to be part of a panel, along with Nursing and Operations Director Trish Bennett, who’ve just awarded STEEEP-L Accreditation for the brilliant work being done on Eden ward at Rowan View. STEEPLE looks at evidence in all seven sections of Mersey Care’s quality domains (Safe, Timely, Effective, Efficient, Equitable, Person Centred and Leadership).
Eden ward, which was called Poplar back in the days of Scott Clinic, is our female mental health ward. They’d achieved two consecutive green ratings from previous quality review visits and this outstanding practice has continued in the new building.
Activities for service users are patient centred, with a positive staff culture and a trauma informed care approach. Staff are at 100 percent mandatory training and they’ve delivered amazing work in reducing restrictive practices working with our Centre for Perfect Care. It was a pleasure to meet them and award this accolade. I don’t think I am doing them too much of a disservice by revealing that the only criticism from Eden patients I could find in all the notes was an old grumble about the bingo prizes! The ward has set a great example and got great results. Congratulations.
Joe Rafferty CBE