The 2014 Annual Skellern Lecture and JPMHN Lifetime Achievement Award

This year’s Skellern lecture will take place on the evening (6-9pm) of June 11th at the Wolfson Lecture Theatre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Maudsley and will be delivered by Professor Joy Duxbury, Professor in Mental Health Nursing at the School of Health, University of Central Lancashire. The central theme of her lecture is the challenge of physical restraint, which, if you have been watching the news recently, is high on the current agenda as a result of the high number of restraint-related deaths in custody (eg: On the theme of her talk Professor Duxbury says: “My lecture will endeavour to balance the evident need for improved compassionate based care against a backdrop of risk aversion. There will be a particular focus on coercive practices, more specifically restraint in mental health settings”.
Also on the evening, Professor Hugh Mckenna will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by the Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing (JPMHN). Professor McKenna has a long and illustrious career. He was appointed an International Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2013 which is an accolade accorded to very few people outside the USA. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (1999), Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing (2003) and Fellow of the European Academy of Nursing Science (2003). In 2008, Professor McKenna received a CBE for contributions to health care and the community, and in the same year he was appointed to Chair the Nursing Panel in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

Duxbury and Mckenna will join a growing list of leaders in the field who have been associated with the Skellern Lecture since 1982. The Skellern Lecture was inaugurated to remember the contribution of Eileen Skellern. Skellern’s considerable contributions to the development of psychiatric and mental health nursing in the UK, were rounded-off by the organisation of the first major international mental health nursing conference in the UK in 1980. Unfortunately, Skellern died two months before the conference, but her legacy was marked two years later in the establishment of the bi-annual lecture in her name. A list of highly prestigious speakers established the series as a leading event for the profession of mental health nursing. In 2006 the Skellern Lecture evening was revitalised and boosted by the addition of a new Lifetime Achievement Award which was sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell’s Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, the first recipient being Phil Barker, followed in 2007 by our own Jo Brand.
Since 2006 the appointment of the Skellern Lecturer and the JPMHN Lifetime Achievement has been via a competitive process of peer nomination, short-listing and panel voting. The appointments panel is made up of previous Skellern lecturers, Lifetime Award recipients, and representatives from event sponsors who have included: The Cassel Hospital, Birmingham Mental Health Trust, The South London & Maudsley Trust, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, Nottinghamshire Health Care Trust, London South Bank University, City University, Institute of Mental Health Nottingham, RCN, Mental Health Nurse Academics UK, Wiley-Blackwell and most recently Greenwich University & Oxleas). In recent years the voting decision of panel has been announced to great anticipation and fanfare at the annual Network of Psychiatric Nursing Research (NPNR) conference, which is held in September. The short-list in 2014 was as impressive as ever with: Richard Whittington and John Playle short-listed for the Skellern Lecture, and Kevin Gournay, Alistair Campbell, Beatrice Stevens and Phil Burnard short-listed for the Lifetime Award. It is the strength of the short-list and the willingness for well-known colleagues to ‘put their hat into the ring’ that ultimately gives kudos to the Skellern lecture and the Lifetime Award.
The lecture evening is a free event so visit the Skellern web-pages where you will be able to reserve your place, where you also find an archive for previous events, information about the current event and a live link to our SKELLERN TWITTER. There are also details about how to nominate for the awards, and we are also keen to recruit student representatives to the panel. We look forward to seeing you on June 11th.

- Dr Gary Winship, University of Nottingham,

20th International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research conference

This year sees the 20th international NPNR conference taking place at Warwick University on the 18th and 19th September. After a number of successful years collaboration Mental Health Nurse Academics UK have agreed a further 3 year arrangement with the Royal College of Nursing to ensure the conference continues to go from strength to strength. You can find more information about the conference here 

The call for papers is currently open and papers are coming in at a steady rate but there is still plenty of time to get an abstract drafted and submitted.

Each year the Scientific Committee review and score every abstract and then meet to decide which papers are selected for concurrent sessions, workshops and posters. The papers that successfully navigate this process usually stand out for their attention to the detail of the call. As the current chair of this committee I can say that we get many excellent abstracts reporting increasingly high quality research. Here are some pointers on what we are looking for in abstracts;

  • you would think it would go without saying but thoughtful and clearly written abstracts have an immediate and significant advantage
  • making clear how your research, practice development or discussion paper relates to the conference themes will also help your abstract stand out from the crowd
  • paying close attention to the submission guidance and abstract criteria helps the committee enormously and this should not be underestimated
  • take a look at the abstract review guide to see exactly what the committee are looking for when coming to a decision on your abstract 
  • remember that this is a mental health nursing research conference and making your abstract relevant to the audience is important – each year we reject abstracts that have little or no obvious relevance to mental health nursing practice, education or research
  • consider whether your abstract is best presented as a concurrent 15 minute session or as a poster presentation – we value both

Whether your paper is accepted or not do consider coming to the conference for the opportunity to hear from established and up and coming mental health nurse researchers. This conference is renowned in our profession for being friendly and collegiate. New presenters are welcome and we provide support and advice to smooth those first time nerves. Many mental health nurses, service users, carers and other colleagues attend the conference and it is an excellent opportunity to meet many of the leading figures in our field and establish productive working (and often long-standing social) relationships.

Michael Coffey

Chair of MHNAUK

Restrictive practices, restraint and mental health nurses

Many mental health nurse academics have strong clinical backgrounds and will have worked for periods in a variety of mental health care settings. Mental health care itself has a chequered history in relation to restrictive practices and while many of us are less than enamoured with this part of the work we recognise that preventing people from harming themselves or others can require us to take steps that would be considered extraordinary in everyday settings. As the CQC annual report on the use of the Mental Health Act in England this week has highlighted the finding that some practices have become ordinary and every day in many health care settings is a worrying development. For instance it noted:
“We continue to see widespread use of blanket rules including access to the internet, outside areas, room access, and rigid visiting times. Some type of blanket rule was in place in more than three quarters of the wards we visited. Such practices have no basis in law or national guidance on good practice and are unacceptable. We continue to hear accounts of patients’ experiences of being restrained.”
It is not all doom and gloom however as they also found that there was cause for optimism:
“In this report we promote examples of good practice where providers of inpatient mental health services have taken positive steps to reduce the use of restraint.”
Here we catch a glimpse of the excellent work of mental health nurses making a real difference to the positive experiences of mental health care. Our colleague Professor Len Bowers and his team have also shown via their Safewards project that is it possible to make improvements to mental health care delivery in our inpatient settings. Len and colleagues have published the basis of their model in open access format here
There is a significant amount of work going on in this area and Mental Health Nurse Academics UK is involved or asked to respond to a number of these developments. So for instance, the Royal College of Nursing is currently conducting some work for the Department of Health to develop guidance on the use of restrictive practices in health and social care settings including special schools. You can find details on their web pages here
We are now consulting with MHNAUK members to formulate a response to the RCN consultation in which we will be concerned to highlight needs for education and research to inform best practice in this fraught area. Ultimately I would like to see a strong principle based approach to mental health nursing care that embeds notions of doing no harm, close involvement of the person in decisions about their care and an approach to practice that critically engages with the evidence base. It is now over to our members to tell me what they would like to see us say in our response to the consultation.

Michael Coffey
Chair of MHNAUK

Research priorities for mental health nursing

Mental Health Nurse Academics UK is interested in hearing about research priorities for mental health nursing from members. Previously on this blog Alan Simpson has posted a list from an exercise at City University and Ben Hannigan and Nicola Evans replied with lists from Cardiff. Professor Len Bowers is collating these lists for discussion at a future MHNAUK meeting. If you have suggestions then you can reply here or directly to Len.
A recent request at Swansea for mental health nursing research priorities resulted in this short list,

1. What are the key skills and knowledge mental health nurses need to make a positive impact on the physical health of mental health service users? (thinking about post reg courses here to an extent)
2. The effectiveness of mental health nurses v peer supporters
3. What selection procedures for mental health nursing are likely to encourage the most emotionally literate candidates?
4. Mental health nurses – how effective are we in improving service users’ mental health?
5. Does location or place influence outcome of mental health nursing intervention?
6. Timely access to services: what is the role of the mental health nurse (thinking of new developments in criminal justice and police triage services but also more common access via primary care etc.)
7. Care co-ordination across the service systems interface: what help works and by whom?
8. How can assistance with identity-work aid recovery and integration?

some similarities with the lists of others can clearly be seen but also the thorny question of what a mental health nursing research priority is raises its head? Is it something distinct from other professions, related solely to the work of mental health nurses or more widely to the fields in which mental health nurses operate? I think here there is some work for us to do in defining what it is we mean and its great that we are making a start.

Busy year ahead it seems!


The CumpledList group

From time to time the pressures of managing multiple roles can tell and perhaps this story illustrates that inescapable fact or possibly that my own organising and filing skills are less than optimum.Image

The photo above for posterity is of a piece of paper I recently found wedged into the bottom of my workbag. I had no recollection of it but quickly linked the venue with a meeting of MHNAUK in the summer and then vaguely recalled that it might have something to do with our plan to have a quick response group for the purposes of producing press statements or replies to consultations. Embarrassingly I had to admit all of this when I emailed everyone on the list and had this confirmed by respondents. One of these, Andy Mercer I think, said he would be pleased to be part of the “CrumpledList group” and hence a name was born. If we have cause to respond to anything then you can be sure the CrumpledList group will have been involved!

Mental Health Nurse Doctoral Students’ Network

paperchain people

Mental Health Nurse Doctoral Students’ Network

We are interested in your suggestions and tips, whatever stage of the doctorate you are at.

I’m approaching data analysis, feeling a slight sense of nervousness, and that I need to be equipping myself in terms of preparation.

Emma’s Blog this month has useful information about qualitative data analysis, and how she got into ‘data display’ –  There are lots of PhD blogs out there, this is a good one in my opinion.


Also was alerted to a new edition today from Sage, and have ordered:

Green, J., Thorogood, N. (2013) Qualitative methods for health research, 3rd edition. London: Sage   This link will take you to the Sage site, and inspection copies are available for academic staff:

What are your top tips as students approach data analysis?

bw, Julia Terry 


Comment on MHNAUK draft statement on Dementia Care

Our colleague Grahame Smith from Liverpool John Moore’s University has kindly agreed to draft a MHNAUK statement on dementia care which I post below. Take a look and let us know what you think MHNAUK should be saying in relation to mental health nursing education, research and practice innovation.

Mental Health Nurse Academics UK – Position Statement on Dementia

Living with dementia can be overwhelming and can significantly impact upon the quality of life of the individual, their families and carers. There are approximately 700,000 people aged over 65 years diagnosed with dementia in the UK, though some studies argue that this is an underestimation of the true figure. As people live longer it is predicted that the incidence of people living with dementia will increase. The societal challenge will be to ensure health and social care delivery is responsive to this potential increase in demand and in a way that ‘quality’ is not compromised.

To ensure that care delivery meets this challenge within a present and future context it is essential that there is a continual drive to promote excellence in research, care, education and training. Taking this into consideration the Mental Health Nurse Academics UK is committed to ‘influence and promote education, research and values-based mental health nursing practice for the benefit of people living with dementia’

It is important to acknowledge that this aspiration is a work in progress. Historically Government and charitable spending on dementia research has been significantly lower than in other long term conditions such as cancer and heart disease. This picture is now starting to change as there is an increasing focus on dementia research, one such initiative which Mental Health Nurse Academics UK members are aligned to, is the Dementia Nursing Research Taskforce initiative which aims to:

  1. Identify key nursing research questions to support improvements in patient care in all settings
  2. Establish writing groups to develop priority research proposals
  3. Develop a plan for building the nurse researcher capacity in dementia

In relation to care standards, the nursing strategy, ‘making a difference in dementia’ provides a clear vision which is both underpinned by a care model for dementia and maps to the Curriculum for Dementia Education (CfDE). These approaches are committed to improving care for people with dementia through policy, practice and education. The Curriculum for Dementia Education has been developed by the Higher Education for Dementia Network (HEDN) and supported by members of the Mental Health Nurse Academics UK forum. This initiative provides a content guide for health and social care professionals that are looking to develop higher education programmes which have a dementia focus.