SW Newsletter #20

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Aug 24th 2007

Welcome to the latest newsletter and a warm welcome to the new members of the network. This 20th edition breaks with tradition, by having no mention of Buddy (apart from that one) and with the inclusion of a contribution from one of our members. We’re very grateful to Sue Gurney from Surrey and Borders for her important piece on a pilot project to improve the experiences of mental health patients who have been victims of violence and abuse. The relevance of this to acute settings is obvious, from this being a cause of someone’s crisis through to the extra considerations necessary for patients who undergo ‘control and restraint’ and other treatment they experience as coercive.

Developing our practice: working with survivors/victims of violence and abuse, particularly child sexual abuse.

Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Trust (SABP) has been approved as one of the pilots for the Department of Health (DH), Mental Health Trusts Collaboration Project, launched in June 2006. This is an exciting and important opportunity in developing our practice to meet the needs of people using our services. Although of relevance to all mental health practitioners the training is particularly pertinent to those working in acute care settings.

The project aims to:

  • Acknowledge and address the links between violence and abuse and mental health, in the delivery of local mental health services;
  • · To review practice and procedures and provide training to ensure NHS Trust practitioners raise issues of violence and abuse routinely and consistently in assessment and care planning with all people using our services;
  • · Whilst it is important to explore and address all forms of abuse, this project focuses particularly on developing practitioner’s skills in working jointly with survivors of child sexual abuse; as it is so often a significant causal factor in mental ill health.

The project has a two year time frame and is subject to an independent evaluation.

The project outline:

  • To undertake a baseline audit of staff and people who use our services  views /experience of abuse
  • To equip a finite number of Trust staff to cascade a training awareness package on sexual abuse
  • To develop a resource, a forum within the Trust, that can offer advice/support/signposting with a focus on sexual abuse and violence and abuse

Implications for clinical practice in acute wards

Although pockets of ‘good practice’ occur across the country, the level of awareness about the nature and extent of violence and abuse and its effects appear to be generally low amongst mental health professionals. People who use our services who have been sexually victimised in child and adulthood do not, in the main, receive the care and support they need. Studies indicate that around 50% of women within the mental health system are surviving childhood sexual abuse, and combined with adult violence and abuse, the percentage rises to 70% or more (in secure settings the figure is even higher). This raises particular challenges in providing safe, sound and sensitive care in the complexity of acute settings e.g. the limitations of the physical environment in offering sensitive facilities and choice; and the delivery of clinical practice that is sensitively undertaken in areas such as control and restraint and rapid tranquillization on individuals who have experienced abuse.

What progress have we made?

We are doing well. We have a highly committed and enthusiastic forum, which includes representation from people who use our services, carers, the not-for-profit sector and health and social care practitioners. The group supports the core project team and is currently developing an action plan to begin addressing some of the wide range of issues this topic raises. On July 27th the national training lead, Chris Holley, Consultant Nurse, Sexual Abuse and Women’s Issues (South Staffordshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust) visited our organisation and delivered the first training session to practitioners, some of who will be taking this work forward as trainers.

Further information please contact:

Liz Mayne, National Project Lead (DH) • [email protected]

Sue Gurney, Practitioner Lead (SABP) • [email protected]


Many thanks for this, Sue, including for providing contact details as I’m sure many members will be interested in discussing this with you.