Aim To extend our understanding of how healthcare assistants construct and manage demanding situations in a secure mental health setting and to explore the effects on their health and well-being, to provide recommendations for enhanced support. Background Contemporary literature acknowledges high rates of occupational stress and burnout among healthcare assistants, suggesting the context in which they work places them at elevated risk of physical harm and psychological distress. Yet, there is a deficit of qualitative research exploring the experiences of healthcare assistants in adolescent inpatient facilities. Design An exploratory multi-method qualitative approach was used to collect data about the challenges faced by healthcare assistants working on secure adolescent mental health wards in an independent hospital during 2014. Method Fifteen sets of data were collected. Ten participants completed diary entries and five participants were also interviewed allowing for triangulation. Data were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Findings The findings illustrated how inpatient mental healthcare is a unique and distinctive area of nursing, where disturbing behaviour is often normalized and detached from the outside world. Healthcare assistants often experienced tension between their personal moral code which orientate them towards empathy and support and the emotional detachment and control expected by the organization, contributing to burnout and moral distress. Conclusions This study yielded insights into mental health nursing and specifically the phenomenon of moral distress. Given the ever-increasing demand for healthcare professionals, the effects of moral distress on both the lives of healthcare assistants and patient care, merits further study.
- Healthcare assistants
- Mental health nursing
- Moral distress
Matthews, H., & Williamson, I. (2016). Caught between compassion and control: exploring the challenges associated with inpatient adolescent mental healthcare in an independent hospital. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(5), 1042-1053. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.12889