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27th February 2015

Setting new standards

Setting new standardsThe National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (known as NICE) have just produced a new quality standard to support the care and treatment of people with schizophrenia.

First a bit of background about these terms. NICE is a government body which provides guidelines on treatment and care in England and Wales and advises on what treatment should be offered. It’s role now incorporates social care as well as clinical health care. Schizophrenia is the diagnostic term for a major mental health problem usually associated with thought disorder. This may include symptoms such as hearing voices, and often what are called negative symptoms, such as poor motivation.

Quality care

So what is the quality standard about? It is really laying down a description as to what good quality care should be for someone with schizophrenia. So what I want to do in this blog is identify some of the statements that make up the quality standard and comment on why I think they are important.

  • Early treatment – there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that if there is early identification and intervention with young people developing symptoms of schizophrenia, the better their chances of recovery and ability to stay out of hospital in the future.
  • Being offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – traditionally treatment for schizophrenia has centred on medication, but there is evidence that talking therapies can help as a way of coping with distressing thoughts. The quality standard also talks about offering newer alternative medication where appropriate.
  • Intervention with families, again there is a lot of research evidence that work with families to provide education, information and coping strategies can reduce stress in families and help the person.
  • The statements include a commitment to offer employment opportunities to people with schizophrenia. This highlights the importance of meaningful daytime occupation in promoting recovery, and can help tackle exclusion of people with mental health problems.
  • There’s a lot of evidence that people with schizophrenia have worse health outcomes than other people in the population. The quality standard says people should have regular health checks to identify issues around weight gain etc. In addition they should be offered advice about smoking and healthy eating.

There’s a lot there that is common sense, which could be incorporated in the care plan of someone with schizophrenia which also fits in with a modern recovery-based view of schizophrenia. The QCS policy and procedure on schizophrenia CC42 offers more detailed guidance on working with people with the condition. You can also look at the Quality Standard itself and some of the evidence that backs up its statements on the NICE website.

David Beckingham – QCS Expert Mental Health Contributor


Topics: Mental Health

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