Innovation in interdisciplinary care at for mental health consumers at the point of triage: An action research project.

Mr Mark  Sharp2, Ms Amanda Petrie1, Dr Marc Broadbent1, Mr  Gino  Richter2, Dr Ogilvie Thom2
1University Of The Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia, 2Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, Sunshine Coast, Australaia

Aim: To engage emergency department (ED) nurses and mental health (MH) clinicians in a collegiate process that aimed to establish an interdisciplinary approach to improving the delivery of care at the point of ED triage.
Methods: Using an action research framework, qualitative data was elicited from interviews undertaken with twenty-nine ED and MH clinicians working at three different sites within the one Hospital and Health Service (HHS) about the process of ED triage, referral and MH response. This data was thematically analysed and presented in a workshop that challenged participants to consider how they perform their clinical practice and how they engage with each other. A final phase of data collection involving participants who had attended workshops was undertaken and thematically analysed.
Findings: The outcomes of the study include evidence that reflects 1) a momentum for a more robust inter-collegial partnership with ED triage nurses and MH clinicians, and 2) a more cohesive collaborative approach to the triage, referral and MH response that occurs at the initial point of presentation for the consumer.
Conclusion: The participants have been able to engage in a problem solving inter-collegial reflective workshop. This has provided transparency regarding what each team is experiencing at the time of triage and thus allowed for an exchange of knowledge and ideas. The processes for triage, referral and MH response have been scrutinised in a collegial environment. This has provided recommendations for improved service delivery to consumers who present for MH care in the ED. Engaging staff in a research process that requires them to describe and reflect on their practice can result in the consumer receiving care at times of crisis that is collaborative and delivered in a timely manner.

Marc Broadbent commenced working as an academic in 2005 following a career in critical care and emergency nursing. He has worked as a clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator and nurse manager in emergency departments (ED) within Australia and overseas. Marc has published and presented both nationally and internationally in the area of emergency mental health triage and has completed his PhD that examined the factors that affect the relationship between emergency department and mental health triage nurses. The management of vulnerable populations in the ED, particularly those with a mental illness, is his research focus. Marc’s work has been cited as the best available evidence for the triage of clients with mental illness in the Australian National Emergency Triage Training Kit. Marc is a member of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, a Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing and Associate Editor – Mental Health for Australasian Emergency Care and a member of the CENA research committee. Marc is currently an expert member of the Mental Health Advisory Group of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in HealthCare and is contributing to the development of national standards of care for mental health services.