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Tagged In:  Mental health

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland says the experiences of mental health nurses can provide useful lessons for those planning and leading integration of health and social care services.




Over the last 30 years, mental health services in Scotland have gone through radical change, moving from a model which relies heavily on large-scale institutional care to a more person-centred approach, delivered mainly by community-based multi-disciplinary teams.

A recent report by RCN Scotland looks at how this service transformation was achieved, with the aim of informing the debate about integration of health and social care services.

Adult mental health nurses played a central role in the process of service transformation. Therefore, in researching the report RCN Scotland carried out one-to-one interviews with nurses and other health professionals, as well as reviewing relevant literature.

"Health and social care integration is a massive change for everyone involved," said RCN Scotland Associate Director Norman Provan. "This report provides lessons for those in charge of our newly-integrated partnerships, on what supports and blocks change, based on the first-hand experiences of those people who have already gone through a period of significant reform."

So what's it really like to be working as an adult mental health nurse in Scotland today? RCN Scotland have also produced three short films featuring frontline mental health nursing staff, including a community mental health nurse, a senior charge nurse and a Director of Nursing.

While praising the way that Scottish mental health professionals embraced the transformation to community-based working, the RCN Scotland report concedes that mental health services face ongoing issues, many of which were highlighted in a Mental Health Foundation review, published in early 2016.

As we reported in a previous blog post, one of the key aspirations in the Scottish Government's Health and Social Care Delivery Plan is that mental health should be given equal importance to physical health. A new 10-year mental health strategy is due to be published soon.

The Health and Social Care Delivery Plan aims to provide more care in the community, giving people access to 'quicker and joined-up treatment'. That means expanding the Community Health Service, providing more multi-disciplinary teams including nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, mental health workers and social workers. 

The country's mental health workforce has already gone through this process and has a wealth of knowledge to share. "Mental health services have shown the way," commented RCN Scotland's Norman Provan. "Health and social care leaders can definitely learn from their experience."

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