Workers at University Hospital Wishaw are putting the focus on the rights of patients admitted to hospital due to mental ill health.
Colleagues in ward one at the hospital have been piloting the Rights in Mind pathway, designed to help staff in mental health services ensure that patients know their rights and can access them.
The pathway was developed by the Commission and other experts, including people with experience of mental ill health. It highlights various issues with human rights in mental health care settings, putting legislation into context.
For example, voluntary patients are sometimes unaware they could leave a ward or refuse treatment and patients who are detained have additional rights, such as being told how long they are detained for and whether they can appeal against their detention.
Frances said: “When I started as a nurse it was about what we did to patients, such as detaining them and deciding their care plans.
“Now it’s more about what patients want and their rights, so it’s changing mindsets.
“The patients’ rights pathway is going to help immensely as it makes healthcare staff more aware of the rights of the people we care for. If patients are informed of their rights they are less anxious and emotional and feel empowered about their treatment.”
Frances explained a key aspect is the use of an ‘advance statement’ – a document written by a patient, when they are well, to say what treatment or care they would like, or would not like, if they get ill again. Anyone who makes decisions about their treatment, like doctors or a tribunal, can then read their advance statement and consider their wishes.
The ward ran a project to promote awareness of the statements and succeeded in ensuring nearly 96 per cent of patients knew they could write one if they wished.
Frances said: “We now have a weekly session about advance statements, led by nurses, patients and peers.
“Lots of patients didn’t realise they could have this input in deciding their treatment and many use them to list the things that have helped them in the past or what they don’t want, such as anti-psychotic medication they’ve had a bad experience with.
“We have a commitment to ‘person-centred’ care and this is a great example of that.
“Patients feel their personal concerns are being listened to and that means a lot to me and my colleagues.”
Kate Fearnley, executive director (engagement and participation) at the Mental Welfare Commission, said: “Rights in Mind can make a practical and positive difference to patients.
“We are delighted that NHS Lanarkshire is promoting it more widely amongst staff.
“Frances and the team at University Hospital Wishaw worked closely with us to create this guidance and they are already proof that it works.”
The Rights in Mind booklet and videos, including the one featuring Frances, are available at.