It is often said that the foundation of psychiatric/mental health nursing is the formation of good therapeutic relationships with patients. This is something we all know has some truth and is very important. However putting into practice with patients on an acute ward is difficult. The shift system gets in the way, as does the turnover of patients, the pace of admissions and discharges, the amount of routine work to do, the filling out of forms, the phone calls, the ward rounds, etc. When we do have time to chat to patients, it helps a bit to know about their background and interests – these give us conversation topics we can raise that we know they may enjoy talking about. In fact, when we find out about patients interests, this information is often passed around the team so that we can all use it to engage the patient.
However the same thing can work in reverse. If the patients care given a little more information about us, they can find areas of common interest and conversational topics. The mutual familiarity and knowledge gleaned can help the faster forming of relationships. And those relationships can help us orientate patients, enhance their coping skills, ameliorate their more difficult behaviour and make them feel more comfortable and reassured during their admission.
Each member of staff will provide non controversial information about themselves that they are happy to be communicated to patients. This could include: qualifications, years of experience working in psychiatry; hospitals/locations where they have worked; previous jobs before becoming a nurse; hobbies/interests; favourite TV programme with reasons; favourite film with reasons; favourite book with reasons; preferred music genre; what bad advice have you taken; what bad advice have you given; what is your top life tip. [Other suggestions welcome]. The information will then be placed on a single laminated sheet. The collection of information sheets will be made available to patients via a special folder.
If the patient concerned is willing, staff are to ask patients and carers upon admission a list of questions that help produce a profile of who the patient is as a person, key background info, such as their likes, dislikes, favourite things, quotes, beliefs etc (visitors of the patient can add to this profile as well). This profile can be referred to for staff to get to know their patients better and will serve as conversational triggers. This can be accompanied by a graphic or picture of the patient’s choice.
The patient information will be added to the same Know Each Other folder.
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Full intervention description of Know Each Other
Examples from the research team
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