Hyphen Projects

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Summarised below are some of the projects in which Hyphen-21 has been involved. All but one come under the heading of mental health work and will soon be covered in more detail in a website devoted entirely to mental health. That site will be called Better Mental Health Working.

Poems for…the wall

This project offers poems for display in healthcare waiting rooms, libraries, class-rooms and other settings. The project has been funded by the Arts Council of England, the Poetry Society, the King’s Fund, NHS Estates, the Dept of Health Equality and Human Rights Group,  the Foreign Office and the John Lewis Partnership. Many of the poems are bilingual, in celebration of diversity. The poem collections are on display in sites all over the UK and indeed the world. Since 2008, when the project went digital, people have been downloading them in large numbers from the project’s website –  https://poemsforthewall.org

Mental Health Ward Round Code of Professional Conduct 

Ward rounds can be deeply intimidating. The experience can be especially traumatic for people with mental health problems. The code referred to here took years to put together. It was devised with the classic mental health ward round in mind, which could (and still can ?) involve up to a dozen mental health professionals surrounding a single disturbed person in a room. The code sets out guidelines for how to make the ward round and similar meetings more sensitive and respectful. It was implemented in at least one North London NHS mental health Trust., though how consistently and effectively was always open to question. The code was recognised as good practice by the Department of Health and by the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE).

Consulting with the Users of Mental Health Care Services

For the last several years, all care organisations have been required to consult with the users of their services at every level. But how to do this in a way that is both real, skillful, respectful and constructive ? How can a rushed and over-stretched manager consult with due care ?  How competently a service “consults” with the people it serves is how competent a service is. The subject is complex and worthy of close attention. It will be covered extensively on the new site.

User Involvement in Staff Recruitment

Involvement in staff recruitment is a valid and effective way for service users to influence service quality. The model proposed by Hyphen-21 involves a separate user panel and assesses senior staff on their relationship skills. It was commended by the Commission for Health Improvement and an article describing the model was published by the magazine OpenMind.

Morale in Care Organisations

Morale in care services is a central issue. “Care” cannot be turned on like a tap. Nor will it flourish if care workers are treated by their managers just as mechanical instruments or by Society as convenient scapegoats for every painful event that happens. Hyphen-21 produced a paper on this subject some years ago. It will be reviewed and revised and uploaded onto the new mental health site later in 2017.

The Practitioners Forum

Here is another paper that will be revised and uploaded on the new mental health site. The underlying purpose of this proposal was to promote and affirm the expertise of the ground level practitioner as a crucial element in the delivery of good care services. It presupposes that “practitioner skills” are not the same as “management skills” although of course there are areas of ellision. The two areas of expertise can feed each other to mutual benefit.

Shared Care Recording

The Shared Care Record (or “Home Support Book”, or “Patient-Held Record” ) offers the patient custody and control of his/her own health record. Articles describing the approach were published in OpenMind and in the Nursing Times magazines. The versions described are 1/ for people with mental health problems and 2/ for people who are house-bound (usually elderly people). We believe the approach can be valuable in the support of people with learning difficulties as well. It gives people a sense of ownership and involvement. Their record becomes less “your file on me,” than “my story.” Computerised recording is not a substitute for this approach.

Spirituality and Mental Health

Spirituality can be a creative topic in mental health circles. We offer a good paper that explores the subject with profundity and poetry. The writer, Julie Liebrich, gave her permission for Hyphen-21 to publish her paper.

Poetry Workshops for Carers

Creative workshops for Carers can be helpful both for mutual support and for expression.  The example that will be given on “Better mental health working” involved a series of poetry workshops for carers in Westminster. It was funded by the King’s Fund and resulted in several poetry readings.

Mental health promotion

Mental Health promotion was one of the requirements of the National Service Framework introduced by New Labour when Tony Blair first came to power. Progress has been made in this area but there is always more needed.  Hyphen-21 has a few proposals of its own which still seem relevant.

Poem “A Light Summer Dying”

This is a long poem which tells the true story of a death from cancer, describing a whole family’s experience. The poem was well received by a significant number of people, including the poets Andrew Motion and Moniza Alvi, but also by priests and hospice workers.  It has also been recited to good effect to Macmillan nurses in training and to social work students.