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Keywords:

  • Forensic;
  • mental health;
  • nursing

Abstract

A major challenge faced by Forensic Program management teams is to balance their budgets due to the unpredictability of the forensic patient population, particularly in the context of managing staffing costs where the hospital is not the “gatekeeper” and does not have control over who is admitted and when. In forensic mental health, the justice system, either via the courts, or review boards, determines who is ordered for admission to hospital for assessment or treatment and rehabilitation. Hospitals have little, if any, recourse but to admit these mentally disordered offenders. This typically results in increased levels of staffing with concomitant overtime costs. The literature suggests that clustered float pool nurses develop enhanced relationships with staff and patients, thereby enabling them to attain specialized clinical expertise to treat specific patient populations, promoting safer, high quality care, and overall are more cost effective. Forensic nursing is recognized as a mental health subspecialty. The “Forensic Float Nurse” concept was piloted to provide readily available, highly adaptable, skilled forensic nurses to assist in times of unpredictably heavy workloads and/or unplanned staffing shortages. A significant reduction approaching 50% in overtime was achieved. Heuristic implications of this finding are presented.