Cross-national mixed-methods comparative case study of recovery-focused mental health care planning and co-ordination in acute inpatient mental health settings (COCAPP-A)

Simpson, Alan; Coffey, Michael; Hannigan, Ben; Barlow, Sally; Cohen, Rachel; Jones, Aled; Faulkner, Alison; Thornton, Alexandra; Vseteckova, Jitka; Haddad, Mark and Marlowe, Karl (2017). Cross-national mixed-methods comparative case study of recovery-focused mental health care planning and co-ordination in acute inpatient mental health settings (COCAPP-A). Health Services and Delivery Research, 5(26) pp. 1–234.



Mental health service users in acute inpatient wards, whether informal or detained, should be involved in planning and reviewing their care. Care planning processes should be personalised and focused on recovery, with goals that are specific to the individual and designed to maximise their achievements and social integration.

We aimed to ascertain the views and experiences of service users, carers and staff to enable us to identify factors that facilitated or acted as barriers to collaborative, recovery-focused care and to make suggestions for future research.

A cross-national comparative mixed-methods study involving 19 mental health wards in six NHS sites in England and Wales included a metanarrative synthesis of policies and literature; a survey of service users (n = 301) and staff (n = 290); embedded case studies involving interviews with staff, service users and carers (n = 76); and a review of care plans (n = 51) and meetings (n = 12).

No global differences were found across the sites in the scores of the four questionnaires completed by service users. For staff, there was significant difference between sites in mean scores on recovery-orientation and therapeutic relationships. For service users, when recovery-orientated focus was high, the quality of care was viewed highly, as was the quality of therapeutic relationships. For staff, there was a moderate correlation between recovery orientation and quality of therapeutic relationships, with considerable variability. Across all sites, staff’s scores were significantly higher than service users’ scores on the scale to assess therapeutic relationships. Staff across the sites spoke of the importance of collaborative care planning. However, the staff, service user and carer interviews revealed gaps between shared aspirations and realities. Staff accounts of routine collaboration contrasted with service user accounts and care plan reviews. Definitions and understandings of recovery varied, as did views of the role of hospital care in promoting recovery. ‘Personalisation’ was not a familiar term, although there was recognition that care was often provided in an individualised way. Managing risk was a central issue for staff, and service users were aware of measures taken to keep them safe, although their involvement in discussions was less apparent.

Our results suggest that there is positive practice taking place within acute inpatient wards, with evidence of widespread commitment to safe, respectful, compassionate care. Although ideas of recovery were evident, there was some uncertainty about and discrepancy in the relevance of recovery ideals to inpatient care and the ability of people in acute distress to engage in recovery-focused approaches. Despite the fact that staff spoke of efforts to involve them, the majority of service users and carers did not feel that they had been genuinely involved, although they were aware of efforts to keep them safe.

Future work
Future research should investigate approaches that increase contact time with service users and promote personalised, recovery-focused working; introduce shared decision-making in risk assessment and management; and improve service user experiences of care planning and review and the use of recovery-focused tools during inpatient care.

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