Hodges' Health Career Model and its role and potential application in forensic mental health nursing



    Corresponding author
    1. Programme Director, Clinical Researcher and Nurse Consultant, University of Manchester, Centre for Mental Health and Risk, and Adult Forensic Mental Health Services, Greater Manchester West NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust, Manchester
    Search for more papers by this author

    1. Independent Scholar and Informatics Specialist, Community Mental Health Nurse Older Adults (NHS), Lancashire Care NHS Trust, Lancashire, UK
    Search for more papers by this author

M. Doyle, Manchester Medical School, Jean McFarlane Building, University Place, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK, E-mail: Michael.doyle@manchester.ac.uk


Accessible summary

  • Mental health nurses working in forensic services require a model to guide their practice although to date it is unclear which if any model is most appropriate.

  • The Health Career Model is a guide for nurses to help them assess people with mental health problems so that they can help them with their physical, psychological and social needs and assist with any problems in their relationship with health, social and criminal justice services.

  • This paper proposes that the Health Career Model should be used by forensic mental health nurses to guide their practice and to promote the recovery of people who are in their care.

  • In order to maintain standards and improve their practice it is important that forensic mental health nurses structure their judgement and decision making with an evidence-based model and more research in this area is required.


Forensic mental health nursing is increasingly recognized as a speciality of mental health nursing. Despite this, there are limited examples of theoretical models to underpin this specialism. This paper describes a conceptual framework known as the Hodges' Health Career – Care Domains – Model, hereafter referred to as the Health Career Model (HCM). Readers will learn of the model's origins, development, structure and content together with its application in forensic mental health nursing. Created in the 1980s, the model was developed in the North West of England by Brian E. Hodges. Overall, the purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the model's potential in forensic mental health nursing, its flexibility, adaptability and its increasing relevance to the problems of 21st century health, social care and well-being. Forensic nursing is discussed and the rationale for a nursing model is made. Hodges' model is introduced by explaining its original purposes, structure, its four knowledge (care) domains, its current status, publications and resources. The model's relevance and application in forensic nursing is explored, in particular the demands and unique constraints of this care environment as exercised upon service users, the multidisciplinary team, families, carers and other stakeholders. Future implications for research and recovery-orientated practice are discussed.