Working alongside next of kin to enhance discharge: A quality improvement collaboration to co-design discharge for mental health patients
Objectives: Mental health (MH) patients seen in the emergency department (ED) setting are often viewed in isolation, outside of the context of their loved ones, the next of kin (NOK). This is especially problematic when a patient is detained under the mental health act. This project aimed to improve this engagement. Methods: A sense of urgency was created from a guiding coalition of the local MH and ED executive of a rural hospital. The vision was communicated to the team for action. This was then institutionally incorporated as best practice during a 3 month trial. Results: NOK were engaged more frequently as a result of this quality improvement strategy, rising to 90.8% (2021) from 63.2% (2020) compared to the previous year χ2 (1, N=166) =18.75, p =.000015. Admissions for all MH patients from the emergency department fell to 28.3% (2021) from 39% (2020) χ2 (1, N=652) =8.32, p =.0039. Conclusions: Working with NOK is a best practice strategy that was embraced by clinicians when highlighted. This resulted in less restrictive practice and more community treatment. Creating a frame for the patient that is standardised, provides containment and co-designs future health care is beneficial.
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