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At arms length: the development of a self‐injury training package for prison staff through service user involvement

James Ward (Research Associate at the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Di Bailey (Head of Division for Social Work, Social Care and Health and Counselling at the School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 9 December 2011

338

Abstract

Purpose

People who self‐injure present a serious concern for many healthcare providers and no more so than for those working in the female prison estate. Despite the prevalence of self‐injury and recent policy highlighting the need for staff training, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of self‐injury is rife within the healthcare professions often demonstrated by poor levels of service and care. This paper seeks to describe the development of a self‐injury training package for prison staff, through service user involvement, in order to address such deficits in care.

Design/methodology/approach

A participatory mixed methodological design engaged both staff and women in prison. Women offenders were involved in the development of training drawing upon their unique experiential expertise.

Findings

In total, 43 per cent of staff working directly with women recognised the need to develop their understanding of, and skills to manage, self‐injury. Key messages women wanted to convey to staff included how to communicate effectively and demonstrate empathy.

Research limitations/implications

Service user involvement in the training of staff is achievable in a prison environment. Women and prison staff identify the need for on‐going training in relation to the management of self‐injury. Limitations of the sampling strategies are acknowledged but not considered significant.

Practical implications

The authors assert that service user involvement is crucial in the development of meaningful training in the management of self‐injury.

Social implications

The involvement of service users in prison staff training empowers those involved and may foster improved prisoner‐staff relationships.

Originality/value

Service user involvement in prison staff training has no precedent in the UK.

Keywords

Citation

Ward, J. and Bailey, D. (2011), "At arms length: the development of a self‐injury training package for prison staff through service user involvement", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 175-185. https://doi.org/10.1108/17556221111194518

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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