Help to Meet National Standards is Here


APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  March 2018 Members' Corner Edition


As you strive to meet national requirements, you want to stay current about resources that will assist and improve your ability to provide quality care in an environment that is safe for you and your patients. Organizations like CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and ANCC’s (American Nursing Credentialing Center’s) Magnet Program offer opportunities to become recognized for excellence while they encourage national standards of performance and quality. In a similar fashion, The Joint Commission (familiar to those who work in hospital settings) accredits and certifies healthcare organizations. To give you an understanding of these kinds of requirements, we examine some of the most urgent challenges presented by The Joint Commission linked to resources and education that can help.

Suicide Assessment and Prevention

With the number of deaths from suicide on the rise, The Joint Commission's requirements stress the importance of identifying suicide risk and developing comprehensive treatment plans for patients in all health care settings. Proper screening can be an effective prevention tool to detect risk in patients receiving care for issues other than mental health. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety details a successful implementation in one health system.  

APNA’s Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention prepares nurses to assess for suicide risk, develop safety plans, make referrals and ensure that the environment is safe. APNA developed the competencies that form the foundation for the training and outline the nurse’s role in suicide assessment and prevention: “…At the patient level, the nurse assesses risk for suicide, provides suicide-specific psychotherapeutic interventions, monitors and supervises at-risk patients, and assesses outcomes of all interventions.” The training provides practical applications and tools to enable the nurse to fulfill this role. Nurse leaders can expand APNA’s capacity to share these best practices nationwide by learning to become facilitators of the APNA Competency Based Training for Suicide.

Patient-Centered Communication

Dictionary definition of resource

Effective communication is critical to the successful delivery of health care services. With many patients unable to understand the health information presented to them, The Joint Commission recommends a patient-centered approach to improve communication between health care professionals and patients.

The APNA Recovery to Practice (RTP) program is a 6-module course that aligns with The Joint Commission's standard on patient-centered communication and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) national initiative. The program facilitates change in psychiatric-mental health nursing practice through the discussion of recovery knowledge, skills and attitudes. Designed as an interactive group learning activity led by an APNA-trained facilitator, RTP enables nurses and other professionals to integrate recovery-oriented practices to the care they provide to persons with mental illness.

Another resource for improving communication between nurses and persons with mental health disorders is the APNA Transitions in Practice (ATP) Certificate Program which covers the knowledge and information foundational to psychiatric-mental health (PMH) nursing practice. ATP examines vital competencies in communication, from best practices in culturally congruent care to applying basic de-escalation techniques and concepts of cultural humility when engaging with individuals.

LGBT Populations

The Joint Commission urges U.S. hospitals to create a more welcoming, safe and inclusive environment that contributes to improved health care quality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients and their families. The Joint Commission Field Guide features a compilation of strategies, practice examples, resources and testimonials designed to help hospitals in their efforts to improve communication and provide more patient-centered care to their LGBT patients.

The APNA eLearning Center offers podcasts that address care needs of LGBT patients. Topics such as: Promoting LGBTQ Mental Health Care to Reduce Healthcare Disparities, which examines strategies to integrate LGBTQ health content into nursing curricula; and Nursing of LGBTQ Children and Adolescents, which explores mental health practice principles for fostering the healthy development of LGBT youth, suggest sensitive approaches for care providers.

 Workplace Violence Prevention 

PMH nurses practice in healthcare settings where workplace violence occurs all too frequently: emergency departments, behavioral health care settings, extended care facilities and inpatient psychiatric units. Research indicates that a common root cause of violence in these types of settings is the lack of or inadequate behavioral health assessment to identify potential for aggression. It is a requirement that organizations have a screening procedure and a preliminary plan to address safety issues. When aggressive tendencies are evident, the care plan should call for appropriate interventions to ensure the safety of the staff and patient.

As members of one of the most trusted professions in America, psychiatric-mental health nurses are positioned to teach and promote violence prevention strategies in a variety of situations. Through APNA’s position paper on Violence Prevention and prevention resources, as well as a violence prevention toolkit specific to inpatient and emergency settings, psychiatric nurses are equipped to reduce violence and advocate for changes to improve workplace safety. 

Pain Management

The Joint Commission pain standards were designed to address inadequate pain control for both acute and chronic conditions. These standards continue to encourage organizations to establish education programs, training, policies and procedures that improve the assessment and treatment of pain without promoting the unnecessary or inappropriate use of opioids.

APNA provides free continuing education webinars for all nurses to empower them with the knowledge needed to combat the opioid use and overdose epidemic. APNA also provides free 8-hour and 16-hour trainings to meet the educational requirements for a waiver to prescribe medication assisted treatment (including buprenorphine) for opioid use disorders. Funding for this initiative was made possible (in part) by Providers' Clinical Support System for Medication Assisted Treatment (grant no. 1U79TI026556) from SAMHSA. 

These examples are just a few of the tools APNA provides to help psychiatric mental-health nurses as they care for their patients and themselves. APNA evidence-based education offerings and training resources are aligned with important requirements across the health care landscape, providing essential resources for improving the safety and effectiveness of your practice.

Any articles referenced here from The Joint Commission are copyrighted by The Joint Commission, 2018. Reprinted with permission.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION and APNA-Logoare registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as trademarks of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.