Exploring the experience of raising a concern or making a complaint in an adult acute mental health inpatient setting

 

Research team: Mary Smith (PhD Student), Dr Jane O’Hara, Professor John Baker

Collaborations

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Why is this project important?

Feedback is an important part of understanding the safety and quality of health services (Flott et al, 2018). Concerns and complaints are integral to this feedback system especially where they indicate areas for learning and improvement. Over the past two decades there has been a significant focus on how NHS services gather and use individual feedback, with some commentators calling for patient reported feedback to be used as a key tool to drive change (Flott et al, 2017, Stenhouse, 2013, Staniszewska et al, 2019).

Regarding adult acute mental health inpatient service provision however there is evidence that even though there are systems of monitoring and gathering service user feedback, these services continue to record complaints about alleged abuse and violations of basic human rights (Drew et al, 2011, Foley & Cummins, 2018). Further, whilst there are studies reporting the themes and nature of these complaints it appears that the ‘experiential’ aspect of complaining about an individual’s care maybe an under researched aspect of the UK NHS mental health system (Dewa et al, 2018, Weich et al, 2018). This fits with reports in general that mental health care and in particular the patient voice in relation to care and safety is widely under researched (Prince et al, 2007).

The experience of raising concerns or making complaints and the management or response to these would appear therefore to be important, as indeed is the insight such issues may provide into the overall care provided (Garrubba & Melder, 2019).

It is important to recognise that when an individual raises a concern or makes a complaint about care within a Mental Health Trust the complaint and subsequent response is ‘managed’ in some way. There is however limited published evidence regarding the actual experience of raising concerns or making complaints about adult acute mental health inpatient care and how these concerns or complaints are ‘managed’.

This study aims to explore that experience. By exploring ‘how’ individuals, their families and carers experience raising concerns or making a complaint about adult acute mental health inpatient settings, it is hoped to understand better ‘how’ individuals experience the process of complaining. The study will also seek to explore ‘why’ certain actions are taken, ‘why’ certain paths followed and ‘why’ people have the experiences that they do.

What are we doing?

This project began in October 2018. Mary’s PhD will explore both the individual experience of raising concerns and making complaints and the management and response to these concerns across different NHS Mental Health Trusts.

Mary has completed a literature review to understand what is already known about the experience of making complaints about adult acute mental health inpatient care.

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement

Mary has met with the service user and carer group (Help from Experts by Experience for Researchers (HEER)) at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and plans to collaborate further with them on the study. Mary also plans to engage with the service user and carer groups within each Trust within the study.

Outputs and Impact                                                                                              

  • Oral presentation: NIHR PSTRC PhD Network Forum, Leeds – February 2019.

Contact for more information: Mary Smith