Observation of People with Mental Health Problems

A revision of the 1995 CRAG document Nursing Observation of Acutely Ill Psychiatric Patients in Hospital to bring it in line with current clinical practice and policy terminology.



This report has been prepared by a group of mental health professionals and service users from a broad range of disciplines who have an interest in improving the quality of acute psychiatric care including the crucial role of observation. The group has consulted widely with Trust Chief Executives, service users, nursing and other staff and has developed a good understanding of the main issues in observation. As a result, I believe that this report will have an impact on the areas where improvements can be made whilst continuing to support the good practice that has been identified as already being in place.

One of several crucial elements identified by the group in this revision is the emphasis on ensuring that observation is experienced as a therapeutic experience by the recipient. For this to be achieved staff must have adequate support and training but also must operate within a service culture where there is an acknowledgement of the paramount importance of a caring engagement with service users. Since the publication of the original report much good practice has developed in this area. However, it is now timely to revise, review and reflect on the changes in mental health care that have occurred. I hope this report assists those who provide and receive psychiatric care in this process.


David Bertin

Chair, Observation of Acutely Ill Patients in Psychiatric Hospital Review Group

June 2002

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