Improving Mental Health Care

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NAME: Lynne Harrison.

AGE: 43.

JOB TITLE: Liaison nurse, psychiatry of old age with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

WHERE DO YOU WORK? North Tyneside General Hospital WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE? The post has a number of aspects.

Primarily, I am there to assist staff working within the general hospital to meet the mental health needs of patients.

This involves assessing the patients, advising on how best to care for them and also helping in their care and discharge.

One of my roles is to teach staff about mental health and raise their awareness of how we can improve patient care and alleviate their symptoms.

I am also involved in Trust-wide improvements in the way we care for patients, with particular focus on patients with dementia and delirium.

Initiatives include an education programme for staff, improving signage on wards, making use of colour to help those with perception difficulties and introducing brightlycoloured cups to make drinking easier for patients.

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES YOU NEED FOR THIS TYPE OF WORK? Excellent negotiation and communication skills. A good knowledge base of mental health and the needs of patients. A genuine interest and enthusiasm for older people and their care.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THIS PROFESSION? I've worked with elderly people with dementia for more than 25 years and qualified as a mental health nurse 20 years ago. Having worked as a ward manager in various units, I moved into liaison work around three years ago and it is my favourite job to date. …