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New competence framework seeks to improve the care of mental health patients in hospitals

24 May 2022

A new competence framework, endorsed by the British Psychological Society, has been developed by psychologists in a bid to improve the care of mental health patients with complex needs in hospitals.

The multidisciplinary framework outlines the skills and knowledge required by professionals to deliver high quality adult and older adult acute mental health inpatient care.

The framework is underpinned by a psychosocial model, which is a form of care that focuses on improving people’s psychological wellbeing and social functioning. This includes interventions such as talking therapies, self-help material and support with coping strategies to help improve a person’s quality of life.

Dr Lisa Wood, one of the lead authors of the framework, said the driving force behind its development was to ensure inpatients have access to a wide variety of treatments and interventions, and subsequently improve care.

Acute mental health inpatient care has often been criticised for being over-reliant on pharmacological treatments and the Care Quality Commission has highlighted a lack of psychosocial interventions available to inpatients.

Dr Wood, a clinical psychologist and researcher working across UCL and North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), added:

“This was echoed by patients who frequently request access to psychosocial interventions in this setting but often do not receive them.”

Chartered BPS member Professor Tony Roth, who advised on development of the framework, said:

“Inpatient care has also been shown to (re)traumatise some patients through a lack of trauma-informed care and the overuse of restrictive practices. Improving the delivery of psychosocial interventions and care in this setting is therefore a priority.”

He added that this framework was a welcome addition to the suite of 22 others that had been published on the UCL Centre for Outcomes, Research and Effectiveness site; these cover psychological and individual therapy approaches to a range of clinical conditions.

The new framework has been developed by researchers and clinicians at UCL and NELFT. It has also been endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, which is a collaboration between UCL and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Association of Clinical Psychologists.

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