Monthly Archives: June 2014

Will GP copayment increase violence in hospitals?

Guest Post: Briana Scully has contributed this (first-ever) guest post to meta4RN.com

BrianaScullyBrianna Scully is a first year journalism student at the University of Technology Sydney. As well as writing stories for university, Brianna is also a Beauty Editorial Intern at Her Fashion Box. Although she hasn’t been studying journalism for long, Brianna is sure this is the right career path for her and wishes to work in print or television production in the future. @brianna_scully

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Will GP copayment increase violence in hospitals?

Although fire extinguishers are typically thought of as potentially life-saving devices, they proved the opposite to Paul McNamara when one was “being held at shoulder height by a tall, fit, powerful young man on a violent rampage in a medical ward.” This is the chilling account of mental health nurse Paul McNamara in his blog titled Emotional Aftershocks. Paul, who works in the medical and surgical wards of a large regional hospital, is one example of increasing violence against nurses in Australia.

A 2013 survey by Nursing Careers Allied Health revealed 39 per cent of nurses had experienced violence in the past five years. With massive cuts to health in this year’s Federal Budget, medical professionals and experts predict that violence against nurses in hospitals will rise.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Branch of the Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation said violence has increased due to “an increase in methamphetamine abuse by the public, staffing shortages in hospitals and longer waiting periods in emergency departments.” Michael Roche, senior health lecturer and coordinator of the Glueing it Together: Nurses, their work environment and patient safety study in NSW, believes adequate staffing is key in preventing violence, and that budget cuts to health will have a detrimental outcome. “We have found that a higher proportion of registered nurses was associated with lower rates of violence, so a corresponding reduction would likely increase rates. . .if fewer staff were available then it is easy to see how patients and families could become frustrated, increasing the potential for violence. 

 Paul McNamara believes violence against nurses was not as much of an issue for previous generations. “Intoxication with alcohol and amphetamines is certainly part of the problem, but there’s more to it I think; something to do with a change in culture perhaps.”

Tara Nipe, a nurse at a tertiary metropolitan hospital, believes the proposed $7 co-payment for visits to the GP will prevent early detection of illnesses and lead to increasing numbers of patients needing emergency care. “If it’s a choice between a $7 GP fee or bread, milk, cereal and spreads for a week, some people will decide not to go in about that red, sore patch on their leg, pain in urination, or really nasty cold . . . When they present to emergency departments they’ll be sicker, needing admission and expensive intervention, putting more pressure on an already stretched system, and increasing the kinds of factors that contribute to violence.”

According to an ABC article, Health Minister Peter Dutton claimed co-payments would be beneficial to those who can’t afford healthcare in the future. However, the NSW Shadow Minister for Health Andrew McDonald believes the co-payment is a “dreadful policy” that will be “extremely damaging to the Australian health system.” Dr. McDonald believes the most effective way to prevent violence is to abandon the co-payment. “It [violence] certainly is a problem that is increasing and one that will certainly get worse if our emergency departments go into meltdown, as is highly likely with co-payments.”

Despite the fact he was not physically harmed, Paul McNamara suffered emotionally after the event, writing: “[I] get teary every now and then when I think of what could have happened: those skull-cracking thoughts are the worst bit.” Although there are calls for a ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ where no act of violence is tolerated by medical staff, Paul believes a caring approach is more effective. “Not every nurse gets exposed to violence or abuse, but you’ll see it up-close-and-personal through your patient’s eyes sometimes. Nurses do emotional labour: be prepared for the emotional aftershocks that come with the job.”

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Many thanks to Briana Scully for contributing this article, initially written as an assignment for her journalism course, to be the inaugural guest post on meta4RN.com. In keeping with an university assignment Briana listed her sources, but they have not been included on the online version. To contact Briana directly go via Twitter: @brianna_scully

As always, please feel free to leave comments below. I would be pleased to hear from others interested in contributing a guest post to meta4RN.com (especially, but not limited to, students who have an assignment that it is likely to be of interest to nurses and midwives).

Paul McNamara, 25th June 2014

 

Stay connected, stay strong… before and after baby

Copy of Stay connected, stay strong… before and after baby DVD on YouTube (33 minutes):
Update as of 12/10/16: video deleted as requested (scroll to bottom of page for further info).

From the back cover of the DVD:

StayConnectedPregnancy, birth and parenting can be a very positive time, but sometimes it may not be how you expected it to be. Adjusting to life as a mother can be hard and make women feel down and distressed. In Australia, one in every six women experience depression during this time.

This DVD has been created to support Indigenous women, men and families understand the importance of good social and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and beyond.

Going to get help might feel like the hardest part, but it is the best thing you can do for yourself, your baby and your family. Getting help early gives the best chance of a strong and healthy future.

YouTube URL: http://youtu.be/CLsjgw8pvOA

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Why is the Video Online?

The video is online so that it can easily reach the target audiences: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders families, and those who support them. It is a great little video: not only does it have a very clear message that there’s no shame in asking for a bit of support, but it also looks and sounds great. My favourite thing is how the narration by Jasmin Cockatoo-Collins ties the whole thing together: even though a couple of dozen people appear on camera, Jasmin’s voice weaves the whole thing together so it kind of seems like one story. Well done to Jasmin and film-maker Jan Cattoni (Jan’s a nurse who became a film-maker).

Knowing that the video is so good that it should be shared is one thing, getting it shared is another.

Stay connected, stay strong… is available for free in Queensland and for $20 elsewhere, all you need is this PDF order form from the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health:

http://www.health.qld.gov.au/qcpimh/docs/resource-order-form.pdf

youtube---the-2nd-largest-search-engine-infographicFar North Queensland residents can borrow the DVD from Cairns Libraries: link.

Queensland Health staff can access the DVD through the Queensland Health Libraries Catalogue: link

However, as accessible as all that sounds, the truth of the matter is that YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing portal and the world’s second largest search engine. A video is not really accessible until it is online.

Now we can share the video using this link: http://youtu.be/CLsjgw8pvOA

Eek!

This is by far the riskiest thing I’ve done with my professional social media portfolio. I am not the copyright holder of this excellent short film: the Queensland Government is. Although I won’t make any money out of hosting the video, I might be subject to legal action. If there is a credible threat of legal action I will take the video down immediately. Another risk is that I might be inadvertently causing offence or distress to some person or organisation. This may mean that I will not be considered for future work in perinatal and infant mental health (perhaps funding for services will return to pre-July 2013 levels one day).

So, why take these risks?.

My agenda is simple: to demonstrate that social media can be leveraged as another channel for health promoting information. It’s something I started when working in perinatal and infant mental health in October 2011, as evidenced by this from my now-mothballed Twitter handle @PiMHnurse (now I use a less job-specific name: @meta4RN).

PIMHnurse

 

My big hope is that hosting Stay connected, stay strong… before and after baby won’t get me in too much trouble, but will serve as a spur for a more legitimate stakeholder to host the video on their YouTube or Vimeo site.

When that happens I will update this blog post.

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That’s it. I’m feeling scared now.

Paul McNamara, 8th June 2014

Important Update 12/10/16

The copy of Stay connected, stay strong… before and after baby that was uploaded to YouTube in June 2014 has now been deleted. Today I was advised that I was breaching copyright, and was requested to take the video down ASAP. In the 28 months that the video was available on YouTube it was viewed 280 times.

stayconnectedstaystrongscrenshot

I’ll add a link if an official online version becomes available.

My intention in knowingly posting a video that I am not the copyright-holder of was to act as an agent of change. If I have caused harm or distress to any person or organisation I am genuinely sorry. That was not my intention.

Paul McNamara, 12th October 2016

A Mental Health Nurse in the General Hospital

MHCBelow is a copy of the blog post I was invited to submit at My Health Career. The website is targeted at high school and university students considering or pursuing a career in health, guidance officers, career development professionals, and others working in or with the health care sector.

To see the post where it was first published online, and/or to have a look around at the My Health Career website, please visit www.myhealthcareer.com.au/nursing/mental-health-nurse-paul-mcnamara

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A Mental Health Nurse in the General Hospital

Paul trying not to look too much like a goob.

Paul trying not to look too much like a goob.

Paul McNamara has extensive experience providing clinical and educative mental health support in general hospital and community clinical settings. He holds hospital-based, undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications, is Credentialed by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN), and has been a Fellow of the ACMHN since 2007. Paul is a very active participant in health care social media, and is enthusiastic about nurses embracing “digital citizenship”. More info via his website meta4RN.com

There is an odd little sub-speciality of mental health services called “consultation liaison psychiatry”. This waffly, jargon-ridden mouthful of syllables is usually abbreviated to “CL”. What is CL? Easy – just think of it as “general hospital mental health”.

I’m a mental health nurse on a CL team. The only ward in the hospital I don’t visit is the mental health unit (the mental health unit already has heaps of mental health nurses – they don’t need me there). It’s the rest of the hospital I serve: the surgical wards, the medical wards and the maternity unit.

General hospital patients are more at risk of experiencing mental health problems than the general public – being sick is stressful. It works the other way around too: people who experience long-term mental health difficulties are more at risk of becoming physically unwell – being under lasting emotional stress can take a toll on the body.

Nurses, doctors, social workers and other allied health practitioners will phone CL when they have concerns about the mental health of a patient. Sometimes all that is required is a bit of information and clarification about medication or follow-up services available in the community – we do that over the phone. More often, we are asked to meet with the patient and determine what, if any, mental health matters can be sorted-out while they are in hospital.

The most common mental health problems experienced in the community are anxiety and depression – it’s the same in the general hospital – a lot of the people I meet with are experiencing either or both of these conditions. There are other mental health problems like eating disorders and deliberate self harm that sometimes require input from both the medical/surgical team and the mental health team concurrently. Helping-out with planning and providing support and care of these patients is a pretty big part of my job.

Sometimes it’s not the person in the pyjamas (the patient) who needs our support – sometimes it’s the communication, the systems and the clinical staff who benefit most from CL input. This can be in the form of structured education sessions or, more typically, in the form of supporting discussion, reflection and problem-solving on how best to meet the needs of the patient within the limited resources available in the hospital. In this aspect of the job, a CL nurse will try to help the clinicians involved step-back from the busyness and pressures of the hospital ward and take “a balcony view” of what is happening. By taking ourselves out of the chaos of a busy shift and calmly looking back at things with a bit of distance, sometimes we can see how we can “do business” in hospitals a little more constructively.

We also spend a lot of time “undiagnosing” (this is a “neologism” – a made-up word – I heard recently via Sydney psychiatrist Dr Anne Wand). The people we “undiagnose” the most are those who are experiencing grief. There can be a lot of grief in general hospitals, but we try to be careful not to confuse the emotions of grief (sadness, anger, temporary despair etc) with a psychiatric disorder. Grief emotions are often really uncomfortable but they are part of what makes us who we are. We don’t want to “psychiatricise” or “psychologise” the human condition. Grief is not something to be simply fixed; grief is a part of life – a difficult part of life – that is usually successfully navigated without psychiatric input. Support from loved ones and/or social workers and/or specific counselling services can help.

So, that’s an overview of what it is to be a mental health nurse in a general hospital. It’s a varied role where we spend nearly as much time with the general hospital nurses, midwives, allied health staff and doctors as we do with the hospital patients. The role involves direct clinical care, collaborating with colleagues and providing education. For more information on the speciality please visit my website or the consultation liaison nurses special interest group section of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses website.

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Print Version (PDF): CLnurse

Thanks to Amanda Griffiths of My Health Career for inviting me to submit this overview of consultation liaison nursing.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Paul McNamara, 2nd May 2014