The Royal College of Psychiatrists has developed safeguarding standards for young people placed on adult psychiatric wards, to help meet a duty to ensure they receive age appropriate treatment.
The standards were commissioned by government agency the National Institute for Mental Health in England (Nihme) and are designed to help managers meet their duty to end the unsuitable accommodation of young people in adult wards by April 2010, under section 31 of the Mental Health Act 2007.
Young service users, parents and mental health practitioners were consulted throughout on the 170 criteria, which cover staffing, training, assessment, administrative processes and the physical environments of wards. The government is investing £31m to meet the target.
A joint report published last October by mental health charity YoungMinds and children’s commissioner for England Al Aynsley-Green said primary care trusts and mental health trusts have “some way to go” to meet the 2010 target. YoungMinds worked with the RCP to develop the standards.
The college has encouraged a “reflexive” approach in which wards will use the tool as a self-auditing guideline to judge success. The wards will anonymously send reports of practice to the RCP, who will then return feedback assessments using a ratings system.
It is hoped that the system will help staff prioritise criteria they need to work on and allow wards to compare performance.
Community Care understands pilot schemes are due to begin across the country immediately.
YoungMinds policy and knowledge manager Paula Lavis welcomed the standards, calling them “a useful tool” which would provide “one central resource, ensuring individuals worked towards one standard, rather than their own localised one”.
She added: “The Royal College of Psychiatrists standard is based on a range of evidence including carer and young people’s views and should therefore be rigorous.”
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