Touching their lives: North Western Mental Health's approach to practice development in aged mental health

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Tracy FortuneRobyn Garlick


The ongoing development of mental health practice is an important issue for consumers, carers, and clinicians. This paper outlines a practice development project undertaken by North Western Mental Health. The aim of the project was to assist nurses and direct care staff working in a residential facility to provide individualized, sensitive, therapeutic, and responsive care for long-term clients with severe mental illness. A clinical nurse educator was engaged to help facilitate changes to both attitudes and practices in a specialist environment catering to those with psychiatric, cognitive, and physical health concerns. The project identified institutionalized routines and practices that were entrenched within the setting and, with support and guidance from a clinical nurse educator, encouraged enhancement of clients' experience and choice. Nurses' clinical reasoning skills were also extended through this process. The project encouraged all staff to develop and maintain an awareness of residents' experience of receiving care in a potentially disempowering environment. In particular, nurses were challenged to consider how nursing, realized to its full potential, can touch the lives of residents and families.


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Jan 16, 2010·International Journal of Mental Health Nursing·Michelle ClearyBrenda Happell
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