Therapeutic engagement in acute psychiatric inpatient services
Therapeutic engagement involves healthcare professionals spending quality time with patients and aims to empower the patient to actively participate in their care. This project was commissioned by the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) Acute Care Programme in order to gain a greater understanding of how this process is successfully achieved and maintained on psychiatric wards. The NIMHE acute care lead in each regional development centre was asked to nominate wards that they thought were accomplishing a high level of therapeutic engagement. From this selection, a steering group identified seven ’positive practice units’ that were suitable for inclusion in the study.
Representatives of the multidisciplinary teams (MDT) who worked on the positive practice units took part in focus groups, which discussed the practices employed on the units to engage patients. Thematic analysis was used to code the data and raise themes. The themes that emerged from this analysis were: Respecting and empowering patients; Staff being ’available’; Engagement-focused observation; Good MDT working; Therapeutic work; Services for discharged patients; Embracing change. The study concluded that the positive practice on the units was the result of having a dynamic ward culture which was grounded in having empathy for patients and supporting staff.
Key Words: Therapeutic engagement; observations; empowerment; support.
c1 Correspondence to: Dr Stephen Pereira, Outpatients’ Department, Goodmayes Hospital, Barley Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG3 8XJ. Tel: 020 8970 5833; E-mail: Stephen.Pereira@nelmht.nhs.uk