Practice what you preach: Developing person-centred culture in inpatient mental health settings through strengths-based, transformational leadership
The experience of nursing staff and consumers in inpatient mental health wards is often reported as being negative. Efforts to improve culture and practice have had limited success, with ineffective leadership, staff resistance, and unresponsive organisational culture identified as common barriers to change. Practice development has been promoted as an approach to developing person-centred culture that enables professional development through participation, learning and empowerment. For person-centred practice to flourish, organisational leadership at all levels must reflect the same principles. In preparation for the opening of a new integrated mental health service, an inpatient mental health team participated in a practice development project. An action research approach was used to facilitate a series of "away days," initially with the nursing team and then other members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT). Transformational leadership principles were adopted in the facilitation of team activities underpinned by strengths and solution-focused practices. Evaluation of the project by staff members was very positive and there was a high level of participation in practice development activities. The project resulted in the creation of a development plan for the ward, which prioritised five key themes: person-centred care, personal recovery, strengths-based principles, and evidence-based and values-based care. The project outcomes highlight the importance of leadership, which parallels the ideals promoted for clinical practice.