Having recently started in post at the University of Essex and North Essex Partnership Trust this is my first blog as Florence Nightingale Foundation Chair. I’m certainly looking forward to becoming more adept and familiar with both job and blogging with time. Over the past 12 months the Foundation has taken a central position in my life, as the recipient of a Leadership Scholarship, now coming to an end, and appointment as mental health nursing Chair. The scholarship has allowed me to combine international conference attendances and meetings with senior government and healthcare staff in the US, Australia and New Zealand. I was privileged to discuss the progression of mental health nursing with well-informed representatives in each setting, comparing practice, professional status and mental health policy with that in the UK. It is terribly important to learn from these colleagues and to exploit our international links. The proposals to introduce a common foundation training for nursing is a good example. This has been carried out in Australia, with, debatably, some errors along the way. We have full view of this trajectory, and so are in an enviable position allowing us to benefit from their mistakes and implement a programme that meets the needs of modern mental health nursing.
I am preoccupied with international links at the moment as I am working on a bid for EU funding with nursing colleagues from Finland, Holland and Mongolia, in addition to Canada and New Zealand. Our submission date is in February, with a long wait until June, when we find out whether we have been successful and can start our Mongolia mental health project. Another funding proposal due in February is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) call to develop training for staff to reduce use of restrictive interventions in acute mental health wards. I am enjoying the exchange of ideas in the nurse-led research team, as well as the challenge of writing the outline and submitting in the space of a few weeks.
Mental health conferences seem to be concentrated in September and October with preparations beginning around now. The UK Mental Health Nursing Research conference will be held this year in Cardiff and the European Conference on Mental Health will be in Berlin in October. Both are fantastic events for networking, for exposure to new research and developments in clinical practice, and as platforms for novice researchers to present to an informed but supportive audience. Our Mongolian colleagues are planning their biannual nursing conference in June and I anticipate being involved in preparations over the coming months, which may necessitate brushing up on my Mongolian!
I am eagerly awaiting the January 2017 publication of the report from the Foundation of Nursing Studies and Professor Tony Butterworth on the review of mental health nursing, conducted in 2016. The review has combined social media platforms and old fashioned workshops and promises to describe the core skills required and future direction of the profession, as voiced by mental health staff and service users, over the next few years. An exciting start to the New Year!