Exploring safety culture within inpatient mental health units: The results from participant observation across three mental health services

Luke Molloy, Val Wilson, Michael O'Connor, Tammy Tran Merrick, Monica Guha, Michelle Eason, Michael Roche

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Abstract

In Australia, acute inpatient units within public mental health services have become the last resort for mental health care. This research explored barriers and facilitators to safe, person-centred, recovery-oriented mental health care in these settings. It utilised participant observations conducted by mental health nurses in acute inpatient units. These units were located in three distinct facilities, each serving different areas: a large metropolitan suburban area in a State capital, a mid-sized regional city, and a small city with a large rural catchment area. Our findings highlighted that, in the three inpatient settings, nurses tended to avoid common areas they shared with consumers, except for brief, task-related visits. The prioritisation of administrative tasks seemed to arise in a situation where nurses lacked awareness of alternative practices and activities. Consumers spent prolonged periods of the day sitting in communal areas, where the main distraction was watching television. Boredom was a common issue across these environments. The nursing team structure in the inpatient units provided a mechanism for promoting a sense of psychological safety for staff and were a key element in how safety culture was sustained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024

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