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Collective inquiry: understanding the essence of best practice construction in mental health

Authors


K. J. Barry
3 Customs Quay
Sligo
County Sligo
Ireland
E-mail:
kathleenj.barry@mailb.hse.ie

Abstract

Delivering quality services has become a committed aspiration of mental health services over the past decade. Service planners look to validated care models to give guidance on what constitutes best practice. While there are many different views of what is ‘best’, there is a growing acknowledgement that services need to listen to the experiences of a network of frontline stakeholders in order to create quality mental health services. This paper describes an exploratory study within a regional mental health service that aimed to understand the meaning and enactment of best practice from the perspectives of a representative sample of service users and providers. A number of themes emerged as important and include the inherent value placed on consistent familial style relationships between service user and provider. This was deemed pivotal to the provision of expertise, good clinical decision-making, choice and collaboration. The study also highlighted stakeholder preference for autonomy and openness to inquiry into developing practice. In deconstructing the meaning of best practice, the study prompts a closer consideration of how best practice is created and suggests a view of best practice as a fluid dialogic process that is co-constructed by its participants in ongoing dialogic communication and reflection.

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