Staff Perceptions of Patient Engagement
Martin, Anne Marie
Recent research has highlighted the importance of involving patients in matters of service structure and delivery. One area of significance that has emerged for patients living in different types of staffed accommodation (forensic, psychiatric in-patient and community learning disability residences) has been the extent to which they are engaged in activities by staff members. However, there has been little consideration of what is meant by the term engagement and whether staff from a range of mental health professional backgrounds construct it in the same way. Little attention has also been given to what staff feel affects their ability to engage patients within the context of a low secure inpatient unit for people with learning disabilities and complex needs. Grounded Theory was used to analyse the data from interviews with seven participants who work on such a unit. Findings suggest that staff from all professional backgrounds construct engagement as a process that is based on building a relationship with a patient, has different levels to it and is an evolving process. Findings also suggested that participants felt their ability to engage patients was impacted by the “System” which they work within. This “System” consists of five main aspects; 1) Separation vs. Integration; 2) Ambiguity/Mystery vs. Clarity/Demystification; 3) Poor Communication vs. Effective Communication; 4) Criticism/Devalued vs. Acknowledgement/Valued; 5) Reaction vs. Reflection. Findings are explored in the light of previous research and implications for theory and practice as well as for service development and delivery are discussed.
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