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New nurses improve care for patients with learning disabilities and mental health problems

19 October 2017

Worcestershire’s hospitals are leading the way nationally in improving patient care thanks to the innovative introduction of learning disability and mental health registered nurses.

Nine new Learning Disability and Mental Health Nurses, who will work across wards at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Worcestershire Royal Hospital, joined Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust on September 25.

The Trust is leading the way in patient care by directly employing Learning Disability and Mental Health nurses to work alongside adult trained nurses in an acute setting. The roles have traditionally been based in community NHS organisations, providing additional support to hospital patients and colleagues when needed.

By integrating the nurses as part of the ward based teams, the care and experience of patients with learning disabilities and mental health illness will be improved.

Sarah Needham, Lead Nurse for Education and Workforce, said: “Many of our patients experience chronic mental health illnesses and Worcestershire has a higher than average prevalence of patients with Learning Disabilities, therefore we are thrilled to be leading the way in improving care in this area, to ensure that our patients are signposted to appropriate community services on discharge.

“We feel that the additional benefits that we will be able to provide by having permanent members of staff based within our own teams will be significant.

“As well as providing holistic support to our patients, the new nurses will also share their expertise with members of the multidisciplinary team, giving them additional skills in caring for patients with additional needs. Once patients are ready to leave our care, the transfer in to community services should also be improved.”

Luke Evans, one of the new recruits, said: “I am keen to normalise mental health patients to staff, improve their mental health knowledge and enhance the experience of patients.”

The nine new nurses received an intensive education programme to support them in developing the skills and knowledge needed to care for patients within an acute hospital. This will be followed by a tailored 12 month support package which will include mentoring and rotation opportunities across the Trust.

New models of care which remove the barriers between mental health and other parts of the health system are being championed nationally, and the new roles introduced at the Trust tie into the Mental Health and New Models of Care developed by the King’s Fund and set out in the NHS five year forward view.

4ward is our Trustwide culture change programme which is helping us build a more positive, supportive workplace for the benefit of our patients and colleagues. At its heart are our four 4ward Behaviours.