The mental health associate practitioner pathway

Bacon, Ingrid, Ooms, Ann and Gault, Iris (2021) The mental health associate practitioner pathway. In: NET 2021 Conference; 01 - 03 Sep 2021, Held online. (Unpublished)


Building and maintaining a qualified workforce of committed staff is one of the greatest challenges facing the NHS . Providing specialist care to people experiencing mental distress is difficult, demanding work and requires exceptionally dedicated, caring individuals. The Associate Practitioner role has been developed to address this demand. The Assistant Practitioner is defined as a worker who competently delivers health and social care to and for people, with the level of knowledge and skill beyond that of the traditional healthcare assistant or support worker ( Skills for Health 2009). A research project was undertaken to evaluate the Mental Health Associate Practitioner programme delivered by the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London. The programme was delivered full time over two years with 40/60 balance between theory and practice, with emphasis on work based learning. A longitudinal evaluation research study was undertaken, using mixed-methods concurrent triangulation design. Data was collected from the 7 learners through questionnaires, at three different points in time: pre-programme, at mid-point and at the end of the programme. The questionnaires included both quantitative and qualitative questions. SPSS version 23 and 24 was used to analyse the quantitative data of the questionnaires. Descriptive statistical analyses were conducted, reporting on frequencies of responses and means. Psychometric analysis of the questionnaires (measuring internal consistency using Cronbach’ Alpha) were also undertaken. Thematic analyses was used to analyse the qualitative data. Findings revealed learners’ engagement with the programme and its activities, the learners’ perceptions of the value of the programme, the impact of the programme on learners’ attitudes, knowledge and skills and the sustainability of the programme. Overall, learners reported good levels of satisfaction with the course and enhanced knowledge and skills, particularly around physical health care.

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