The meaning of mental health nurses experience of providing one-to-one observations: a phenomenological study

C Rooney
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 2009, 16 (1): 76-86
There has been much recent literature about the need for appropriate policies and approaches to ensure that patient's rights and standards of care are safeguarded. The focus from national policy is on suicide reduction and prevention, and the nursing literature has concentrated on the importance of engaging the patient and ensuring that there is the least amount of restriction possible. A research study was carried out to explore the perspective of mental health nurses working in these intensive situations, using a purposive sample of nursing staff from the local National Health Service Trust's acute units. A phenomenological approach to the study was chosen to allow an in-depth exploration of the issues--'seeing things up close'--using the philosophy of Husserl as a base. The key areas of enquiry were: to explore and amplify the experiences of nurses undertaking constant observations, including any effects that may have on nurses; to gain further understanding of the dynamics and processes involved; to discover information that can inform and support development needs. Individual taped interviews were carried out with six nurses working in an acute admission ward, and these were then transcribed and analysed using Giorgi's method of analysis. The results of this analysis showed that nurses are keenly aware of some of the professional and ethical tensions involved in the process of keeping patients safe while trying to promote recovery. Results have implications for policies, preparation and support of staff, and provide some further insights into the nature of this experience for nursing staff who are caring for patients who are presenting with risks to themselves.

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