If you or a loved one have ever been in need of mental health care, you may know that access to care, as well as understanding how mental health treatment works, can be challenging — especially when first seeking support.
And while there’s no question that maintaining our mental health is equally as important as keeping up our physical health, the subject can be seen as taboo — or at least, unfamiliar — to some people. This is why it is so important to recognize that the more we know about psychological conditions and care, the more likely we are to seek help and achieve health and wellness.
Applying the lessons of patient-centered care
According to Jaspal Gill, PhD, RN-BC, a senior nursing specialist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, an important element to achieving positive health care outcomes and increased patient satisfaction is patient-centered care, and this should include involving patients in their plan of care.
Patient-centered care is defined as providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that these values guide all decisions made about their care. It is the foundation of a partnership between patients and their health care providers.
“Research shows that involving patients in their plan of care is the best practice,” Gill says. “However, there has been a lack of research on how psychiatric patients perceive their involvement in the planning of their care during their admission to a psychiatric facility.”
Gill developed a study in which 12 patients who had an inpatient admission to a psychiatric facility within the prior 12 months — all hospitalized for a variety of reasons, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, suicide ideation and other conditions — were interviewed about how they perceived their care and whether their own involvement in their plan of care would lead to improved results and increased satisfaction.
She found that study participants had positive experiences when involved in their treatment plan, which was achieved by the following actions of their care providers:
- They were informed of different treatments and options to choose.
- They were involved in the decision-making.
- Their opinion was counted in creating the plan.
- They were informed of any of the changes that were made in the plan of care during their stay.
Furthermore, once participants had a better understanding of their treatment, they were more willing and interested in becoming involved. The opportunity of two-way communication with their health care provider, receiving information about changes in their treatment, having the option to choose, and having a voice in their care planning led to what participants said they considered to be ideal treatment and involvement.
Lessons learned for future improved outcomes
“While some participants shared that their opinion wasn’t counted or changes to their plan of care were made without informing them, they felt that if they had been involved in their plan of care, they could have had different treatment outcomes,” Gill says. “Being involved could have helped them successfully transition into the community with better preparation to manage their mental health and avoid future hospitalizations, and they could have had a shorter inpatient stay.”
Gill believes the findings of her study validated existing research on patients’ desire to be involved in their plan of care, and can lead to a cascade of changes to improve the quality of care provided at psychiatric facilities across the country.
“It is so important to give our patients a voice,” Gill says. “They are the strongest player on the care team — they need to be heard, involved and encouraged.”