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Communication As An Aspect Of Mental Health Nursing Care

This essay will be exploring communication as an aspect of nursing care which is an indispensable skill in a role of service provision such as nursing. Through the development of fundamental mental health nursing skills and the values they require, I have gained further clarity in understanding the benefits the values and skills provide to service users and the relations they have with service providers. The Nursing and midwifery council (NMC 2018) asserts that care for service users must involve communication; a culture where health professionals show adaptability by discussing patient safety openly with colleagues and with service users themselves and their families. This essay will therefore explain how I used the skill of communication during a specific episode of care and why communication is important in professional practice. I will also demonstrate how care and compassion are linked to communication; the positive effects they have on everyone within a healthcare setting and how they help my role as a mental health nurse in my patient’s wellbeing. During my placement, I kept in mind that The Royal College of Nursing (RCN 2018) places heavy emphasis on compassion and sensitivity as principles that allow for effective nursing care to be given to service users and allows for a cohesive work environment. I will analyze conceptualizations of care and compassion and how the different definitions link to my professional role of a nurse. To conclude my essay, I will summarize and evaluate the factors mentioned above.

My placement experience has helped me to perceive the essence of nursing care. Displaying care and compassion by emphasizing how much of a priority the service user is, was a skill that I aimed to portray in my role. I was inspired by Baughan and Smith (2013) who assert that caring and compassion should not only be reserved for times of crises but should be integrated into the everyday routine of service provision. When thinking retrospectively on an episode of care I encountered during my placement, I kept in mind the applied skills and values that were integral to nursing care. My experience with a service user during my placement illustrates the importance of good communication and being adaptable and how they require one to practice values such as care and compassion. My role at the hospital required me to carry out routine check-ups on service users in the morning and report back to my mentor after doing so. During one of my check-ups, I observed a service user in depth (for the purposes of confidentiality the patient shall be referred to as Miss X) and noticed that her demeanor was unusual. Her facial expressions seemed to suggest that she was troubled. After carefully analyzing the situation, I proceeded to ask her how she’s feeling and if she was comfortable. She then revealed to me that she had been promised a space in a more comfortable ward but hadn’t been given one for quite some time. I spoke to my mentor who confirmed that Miss X had been promised a space in another ward but hadn’t been given it due to a lack of beds. However, on my observation at her mood, my mentor promised to intervene on the situation. After reporting this back to Miss X, her countenance completely changed and she expressed her gratitude towards me. This episode required me to be adaptable enough to act on my observation by communicating with Miss X and also have enough compassion for her situation by acting on my duty of care to all service users in ensuring that they are comfortable.

Communication can be defined as the imparting or exchanging of information and involves understanding and helping their patients by demonstrating courtesy, kindness and sincerity. The episode of care required me to draw on my knowledge of the different types of communication for example I utilized person-centered communication which acknowledges the individual but also responds by prioritizing their feelings and needs. Ennis et al. (2013) explores necessary qualities required for sound leadership in mental health nursing and the importance of effective communication which includes successful verbal and non-verbal communication in day to day clinical leadership. This allowed me to assess the impact of on-verbal and verbal communication so I was mindful of my tone, body language and kept eye contact with her throughout our conversation in order to let Miss X understand that she had my undivided attention.

When communicating with colleagues it is important to accurately relay information in order to avoid a misunderstanding between service users and service providers, after Miss X expressed her discontent at the situation at her ward. I made sure that in my enquiry about her situation, I did not have an accusatory tone or voice neither did I take her account as a factual information until my mentor corroborated her version of things. I also asked Miss X further questions whilst giving her the opportunity to correct me if I made a mistake in my understanding of her concerns. By the end of my conversation with her, I felt that I truly understood her feelings as well as her account of what had happened. However, after having a conversation with my mentor, I had a well-rounded view of the situation and whilst I had compassion for her, I also had compassion for other service users who required a space at the other ward more than she did. I believed that it was the necessary course of action to let Miss X know that I would mention our dialogue and her discomfort with my mentor so he could be aware of her concerns and take any steps he thought would better the situation. This allowed me to then communicate the information that my mentor had given me back to her and assure her that all colleagues in her current ward will make a constructive effort to make her situation more comfortable. As a result of this, she felt comfortable enough to express to me that she regained hope and that our encounter had corrected the impression she had about service providers whom she thought had no care for her needs or preferences prior to this. This indicates that the skills of communication and adaptability that I utilized in this situation were effective and the patient could understand my compassion and care towards her. However, I understand that there is no one way of showing compassion and care towards a patient so my approach may need to be adapted in other circumstances. Pearson (2018) suggests that there is no set structure which compassion should take neither is there a specific way of implementing it.

This specific episode of care has allowed me to I practice skills that are fundamental to have as a service provider. I’ve also come to understand just how fundamental communication is within a team. It enables both colleagues and patients to be aware of problems and potential problem areas and execute effective nursing care based on that information. Furthermore, by enquiring about the situation I felt I could tailor my service provision successfully to Miss X which is extremely important in aiding an agent-centered approach to recovery and mental health. On reflection, I feel that perhaps I could have considered communication with Miss X’s family. It would have been helpful to see the patient’s needs and preferences from the perspective of a family member and whether a lack of them affects her mental state. This would have allowed for a more tailored care plan. By doing this, I could then have informed them of support available to them or enquired about any questions they had. Taking these steps would have been another way I could have shown compassion and care or integrated other essential values which link to communication but also shows adaptability.

Compassion and care are essential to mental health service provision and are even part of the 6C’s which underpin the care strategy of the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS (2014) asserts that compassion is how care is given through ‘relationships based on empathy, respect and dignity and is central to how people perceive their care’. Care is also a value that is at the core of the NHS and is tailored to the individual. As an aspiring mental health nurse, it is imperative that that I understand the importance of compassion and care and also practice skills that require me to employ those values such as communicating effectively and adapting myself to different situations.

On the other hand, Percy and Richardson (2018) suggest that to demonstrate compassion is to ‘display empathy using therapeutic relationships’. Based on this knowledge that I had prior to my experience with Miss X, I accepted her offer of a hug as I judged that we had started the process of building our own therapeutic relationship. Accepting the hug was another way to display compassion and create a relaxed atmosphere which is necessary to make the service user felt as comfortable as possible and encourage them to voice their concerns. On the other hand, I have also been educated on instances where physical contact with a service user is inappropriate and can communicate the wrong message when used in the wrong context. Whilst reflecting on this episode, I’ve come to understand that communication and compassion extend beyond the service user and service providers have to be adaptable enough to communicate with the patient’s family. Chan (2017) asserts that the quality of nursing care is made easier if family members understand and participate in supporting the patient during the course of treatment.

The professional values I feel I employed whilst using key skills of communication and adaptability are compassion and care. I believe that my encounter with Miss X has affirmed that I do not show symptoms of compassion fatigue as a service provider. The Journal of Trauma Nursing (2017) defines compassion fatigue as feelings of tension experienced by care givers and can be identified by factors such as feeling burnout or feeling traumatic stress. By spending time listening to Miss X and communicating her concerns over needs to my mentor I feel I employed these values of care and compassion effectively. The department of health (2012) suggests that the quality of care is extremely important because on reflection of their contact with a nurse, service users may think about the environment they received care in; whether they were treated with compassion, respect and dignity. I felt that listening to Miss X was important, but by showing empathy and patience whilst listening I could give her the time she needed to feel comfortable and open up to me. Moreover, through successfully communicating with both Miss X and my mentor, I helped ensure she was attended to that appropriate action was taken to meet the patient’s needs and provide adequate care. This episode of care taught me that I had to respect my mentor’s opinions and listen to the feedback given. The inability to do this would make me unable to work as part of a successful team which could even have complicated effects on Miss X’s wellbeing, as it is important that all service providers work together to offer her stable, secure care. Without respecting Miss X and giving special attention to her mood, I would have been unable to provide my duty of care as a service provider which involves making the patients my priority therefore, reducing her confidence in me as well as other service providers. I was mindful of making the patient my priority as Francis (2013) suggests that the rate at which there is an inadequate standard of nursing care, when patients are no longer the main priority within professional care settings is increasing. Therefore, I wanted ensure that Miss X understood that she was the priority by communicating that message through not only my words of encouragement and support but my immediate actions on hearing her concerns.

Care has a multi-faceted nature. As well as aiding individuals with every medical complication the concept also extends to providing psychological and emotional support. Care involves extensive regard for human rights in a service provider’s delivery of healthcare without prejudice. Service users must be provided with adequate care tailored specifically to their needs. In the long run, this helps build a patient nurse relationship and provides relief to patients and their families, whilst meeting their individual needs in relation to their biographical and psychological state and in context to provide an adapted and holistic care plan (Merrifield et al., 2018). This understanding is supported by the NMC (2018) which suggests that patients need the support of professionals who can display humanity by empathizing with them because the values of compassion and care are central to good nursing. I’ve also learned that service users also need nurses who care enough to embrace new ideas and are flexible enough to work through challenges. Through being adaptable a nurse will become better equipped to give effective care even when faced with a crisis; a common occurrence within healthcare practice.

This essay has analyzed the importance of key skills such as communication; how it is linked to values such as care and compassion and the positive impact that the skills and values have on the welfare of patients. Reflecting on my specific episode of care with Miss X I have concluded that without the ability to adapt to different situations and utilize communication skills, I would be unable to gain a respectful and empathetic relationship with patients. Without effective communication skills, there may have not been steps taken in order to relieve Miss X of her uncomfortable condition and there might also have been no room for me to gain different perspectives on the situation or build a therapeutic relationship with the patient. I believe that is imperative to have knowledge of a range of skills such as communication and adaptability as a student nurse in order to practice certain values which are which are compatible with the NMC code of conduct. Failure to adhere to the NMC code or embody this code whilst caring for service users could be detrimental to patients’ mental health and is an unjust serving of care. By employing the values of compassion, a when delivering care to a service user, I eventually played a small but important part in improving the patients’ wellbeing and her relationship with colleagues at the hospital. During my placement I have enhanced my ability to adapt and communicate with both patients and colleagues through considering how values such as compassion and care can be implemented. I have also found that care and compassion are values that are understood as important to the NMC and Department of Health. I have come to understand that if I wish to be a fulfilled nurse and have successful relationship with patients I must fully understand the concept of care in nursing. This will ensure that I maintain professional standards and offer the best treatment as a service user. I must not only understand the concept of care but keep it in mind as I practice skills such as communication and adaptability and display values such as compassion.

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