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Researchers in nursing question myths in psychiatric care

Published: 23 February 2018

There are a number of myths that remaines and poses problems for both staff and patients in psychiatric care. This causes the staff to become limited and the patients are suffering. This claims researchers at Luleå University of Technology who want to contribute to a better psychiatric care.

-– The psychiatric care can do better. Today it's a lottery if you get a good or bad experience when you visit a psychiatric care. We want to raise the level and we must dare to question, acquire new knowledge, listen to patients and users, and build care based on their experience, says Sebastian Gabrielsson, specialist nurse in psychiatric care and fo in Nursing at Luleå University of Technology.

Fear of meeting the human

Based on their own and others research, they believe that one can talk about myths that are perverted and unfounded beliefs and which tie back the staff.
– As long as you start from the myths, you will never become the caretaker you want and could be, says Git-Marie Ejneborn Looi, specialist nurse in psychiatric care and a filosofie doctor in nursing at Luleå University of Technology.

She believes that if staff, for example, assumes that "if I give them the little finger, they take my whole hand", a fear of meeting the human arises. The staff miss out on having a fun job and patients fail to get a good care.

Manage the staff's own feelings

According to the researchers, the staff's approaches and values ​​need to be constantly discussed, questioned and turned inside out to meet the human where they are in their daily lives in handling different challenges.
– For example, there is no support that a distant approach is good in daily care, it only complicates. The staff need to approach the patients physically and emotionally to understand how they can help, says Sebastian Gabrielsson.

When the staff are close, there is the opportunity to convey the feeling of being seen and to confirm the person. The challenge for the staff is being able to handle their own feelings. Then it becomes important to get support from colleagues and management, but also to develop their own awareness.

Willing to change

In recent years, researchers have noted a change in the psychiatry care and will to change. Even nationally, it is increasingly talked about a care that has the patient in focus, instead of the disease, and the importance of the involvement of patients and relatives when the care is organized and delivered.

– Research and development in the psychiatric care must take into account both the staff and patients' experiences of what works and what does not work, continues Sebastian Gabrielsson.

– We have to get rid of the myths to get a good care and think about why I do as I do and base it on experience and research, Sebastian Gabrielsson continues.

Important to listen to patient needs

Their own research has focused on studying psychiatric inpatient care from the perspective of staff, patients and students, but also on developing organisation by supporting staff groups to work more reflective and recovery-oriented.

– When we talk to staff and patients, we notice that there are some ideas and perceptions that return, the same myths I have heard since the 80's, and some that I believed in when I worked as a nurse, says Git-Marie Ejneborn Looi.

The researchers believe that their own and others' research, in Sweden and internationally, clearly shows why many myths are just myths. Instead of a distant and authoritarian approach, research shows the importance of staff working collaboratively and relationally, that they are flexible and can adapt to the situation and to the needs of the individual, and also listen to and take patients' stories and experiences seriously.