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Call to support Welsh mental health nurses in leadership and career development

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Nurse leaders in Wales have called for all mental health nurses to be supported to develop leadership skills and receive effective and continuous professional development, in a set of pledges released for the sector.

The All Wales Senior Nurse Advisory Group has produced a framework for mental health nursing in Wales in a bid to ensure that nurses continue to be at the forefront of driving improvements and to help provide advice to staff on current issues in the division.

The group, who have created 13 pledges for nurses in the sector, is made up of senior mental health nurses from each health board and from higher education establishments.

Their document – titled A Framework for Mental Health Nursing in Wales – is organised around four key areas:

  • Professionalism, voice and leadership
  • Workforce and education
  • Promoting population health and wellbeing
  • Quality and safety of care

Derived from each key focus, the group has laid out a list of pledges that it ultimately aims to develop into an action plan. The pledges state that mental health nurses will:

  • Work collaboratively with people living with mental health problems, their families and carers
  • Have leadership opportunities
  • Undertake clinical supervision
  • Have effective and continuous professional development and postgraduate programmes that offer career development
  • Be research-minded and support research in practice
  • Have access to undergraduate programmes that prepare nurses uniquely for practice in mental health settings
  • Work to promote mental health awareness
  • Work to reduce health inequalities
  • Work with primary care to ensure individual’s physical health needs are met and to promote healthy lifestyle choices
  • Ensure that people using services, their families and carers share their expertise to inform practice
  • Work with people using services to achieve outcomes that are important to them
  • Use improvement methodology
  • Work in environments that are safe, supportive and therapeutic

In the document, the advisory group said that it believed it was important to create a framework that laid out their “aspirations for mental health nursing in Wales” and to “maximise the role of mental health nurses throughout the health and social care system”.

The lead nurses also reported that it was an “opportunity to enhance and develop mental health nursing” to ensure that those using the services gain “continuous improvements in their experience of care”.

In order to produce the framework, the group involved nurses and other healthcare professionals, by carrying out workshops and activities and by asking staff what they thought should stay the same and what could be done differently in mental health nursing.

People who have experience of mental health services and their families and carers were also involved in creating the framework, in which the team worked with people accessing services at a local board level.

In the forward for the document, chief nursing officer for Wales Professor Jean White noted that the pledges made it it would help to deliver the “aspirations” made in A Healthier Wales – the 10-year plan set out for health and social services in the country last year.

“My hope is that mental health nurses will be inspired when they read this framework to quickly adopt the good practices described herein for the betterment of care delivery,” said Professor White.

Helen Whyley, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said the college welcome the new framework.

helen whyley

helen whyley

Source: RCN Wales

Helen Whyley

She said: “Mental health nurses, our members, provide professionalism and leadership every day to take care of people with mental health needs.”

Ms Whyley highlighted that it was “so important” that the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 was extended into mental health settings. 

“It is only with the right numbers of mental health nurses and health care support workers can they truly embrace the pledges set out in this framework,” said Ms Whyley.

She added that the college looks forward to working with the senior nursing group in the future on joint issues.

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