Older adult recovery: “What are we working towards?”

Date14 March 2016
Published date14 March 2016
AuthorSamantha Rankin,Stephanie Petty
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Mental health
Older adult recovery: What are we
working towards?
Samantha Rankin and Stephanie Petty
Samantha Rankin is
Assistant Psychologist and
Stephanie Petty is Clinical
Psychologist, both are based
at the Specialist Older Adult
Services, Retreat Hospital,
York, UK.
Purpose The perspectives of frontline clinical staff working with individuals in later life within an inpatient
mental health setting, of their role in recovery, have not yet been explored. The purpose of this paper is to
understand what recovery means within an inpatient mental health setting for older adults. The authors
address clear implications for clinical practice.
Design/methodology/approach Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 multidisciplinary
participants across two specialist older adult recovery units at an independent hospital in the UK. Thematic
analysis was applied to the transcripts.
Findings Three main themes were identified: participants identified their normative task as the promotion of
moving on(clinical recovery) and their existential task as personal recovery. The context in which recovery
happens was highlighted as the third theme. These represented competing workplace goals of clinical and
personal recovery. This highlights the need to give permission to personal recovery as the process that
enables mental health recovery in older adults.
Originality/value Staff working in a inpatient mental health service for older adults discussed the meaning
of recovery and their role in enabling recovery. This has implications for sustainable clinical practice in this
setting. Recovery-orientated practice in this setting is required but the detail is not yet understood.
Keywords Relationships, Long-term care, Recovery, Older adults, Inpatient, Organizational
Paper type Research paper
Le Boutillier et al. (2011) state a key challenge for mental health services is the lack of clarity
about what constitutes recovery-orientated practice(p. 1470). Recovery is an increasingly
prevalent concept within mental health care. Within the UK, services are guided by policy
towards promoting recovery. The current plan for mental health services in England states an
expectation that services to treat and care for people with mental health problems will be []
based on the best available evidence and focussed on recovery, as defined in discussion with the
service user(HM Government, 2009).
The concept of recovery has been subject to continuous debate due to its highly individualistic
nature (Gilburt et al., 2013). A definition that is valid for clinical practice provides a key challenge
for mental health services (Le Boutillier et al., 2011). A distinction has developed in the literature
between two forms of recovery: clinicaland personalrecovery (Slade, 2009; Collier, 2010).
The former is seen as the removal of symptoms and restoration of social functioning, a medical
model of recovery where the individual returns to previous states of functioning. The latter is seen
as acceptance and transformation of the individual; a standardised definition of personal
recovery is emerging. A definition, developed by Anthony (1993) is used by the Department of
Health (2011): Recovery is described as a deeply personal, unique process of changing ones
Received 8 September 2014
Revised 13 January 2015
1 May 2015
13 July 2015
Accepted 30 July 2015
The research team gratefully
acknowledges the help and
support of the participants, both
on the units involved in the study
and within the wider hospital.
Also, the authors would like to
thank Rosie Blagg for her help with
the conduct of interviews.
DOI 10.1108/MHRJ-09-2014-0033 VOL. 21 NO. 1 2016, pp. 1-10, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1361-9322

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