In 2013 Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, in south-east London, commissioned a piece of work from Practice Based Evidence and the Mental Health Foundation to explore ways in which ‘values-based practice’ can be practiced and evidenced more in the day-to-day work with service users and carers within the Adult Mental Health Directorate. So far, the programme has engaged with six pilot teams and produced a set of draft guidelines. In 2014 the programme explore innovative ways of implementing the ideas, and spreading ideas to staff in other directorates.
Now in 2015 the programme draws to a close with a focus on a specific group of people, explored elsewhere in a few podcast episodes, the team and ward managers. These are seen by the programme developers as the key people for embodying and promoting the culture change needed within teams in order to implement refined approaches to the day-to-day challenges of working with peoples strengths and focusing on person-centred values in practice rather than just words in policies and mission statements.
WHY FOCUS ON VALUES-BASED PRACTICE?
They influence everything we think, decide and do in day-to-day practice, though often in a more sub-conscious way rather than overt statements and discussions. Good practice is not about adhering to one set of right values, we should respect and embrace values diversity. Values can be very personal, professional or organisational statements, but the focus here is on the values that underpin the day-to-day language of focusing on the needs and priorities of the individual service user. Practitioners need to be supported to be able to work where values of the service user, organisation, or professional may differ or conflict. A recent high profile report in the UK highlights the need to put this approach to values-based practice into context:
Francis Report into Stafford Hospital “People must always come before numbers. Individual patients and their treatment are what really matters. Statistics, benchmarks and action plans are tools not ends in themselves. They should not come before patients and their experiences. This is what must be remembered by all those who design and implement policy for the NHS.” Excerpt from press release statement by Robert Francis QC in Stafford (5/2/13).
One product of the overall programme has been the development of brief practical guidelines linking together values and principles, working with strengths, positive risk-taking, and the role of person-centred care planning. A modified version of these can be accessed on request through The Strengths Revolution blog.