The Clinical Services department of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Benin City has organized a-four day training on communication and clinical skills for its members of staff. The training which held in the hospital conference hall on 13th, 14th, 27th and 28th January 2021 between 9am and 3pm was aimed to enlightened the clinical staff on client rapport, empathy, documentation, ethics and confidentially.
Dr. J.O. Omoaregba, one of the resource persons and also the Head of Clinical Services department welcomed the participants – Social Welfare Officers and Health Records Officers – to the training. He asserted that the training was organized to enhance the competencies of communication skills of the staff in the course of working with clients. According to him, “the need for the clinical staff to be effective in their communication while dealing with patients has informed this training”. He thus enjoined the participants to cooperate by being attentive and to take advantage of the lecture for better service delivery.
Among the topics covered during the training were: Basic Principles for Working with Clients, Ethics and Confidentiality, Crisis Management, Empathy, Unconditional Positive Regard, Documentation, Inter-professional Collaboration, and Care Coordination.
In one of her lecture, entitled the “Basic Principles for Working with Clients”, Ms. Veronica Effiong, a Clinical Psychologist who was one of the resource persons stated that its main objectives was for the participants to be abreast with the basic principles underlying the development and rapport between mental health workers and the clients for maximum satisfaction, and to understand the importance of therapeutic alliance. According to her, “clients with mental illness often do not trust the people who want to help them. Thus, it is important to develop a good rapport, understand them, and show genuine interest in helping them and also to be patient with them”. Highlights of the basic principles of excellent work with clients include: reliability, professionalism, punctuality, confidentiality, respectfulness, flexibility and patience, active listening and creating a relaxed atmosphere, among others.
Effiong, in another lecture entitled “Unconditional Positive Regard” (UPR), explained the need for mental health workers to accept others and clients as they are, without judging them. She defined Unconditional Positive Regard as a situation of accepting and supporting others exactly as they are without evaluating and judging them. As she puts it, “when the counsellor offers no judgment, the client feel less fearful and can share their thoughts, feeling and actions freely; as the counsellor accepts the client, he or she is then encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings and behaviour more openly”. Effiong also exposed the participants to the need for proper documentation of clients’ record stating that it is important for the legal and ethical protection of the staff and the hospital in general.
Similarly, Dr. O.O Arigbede, a Consultant Psychiatrist and also one of the resource persons enlightened the participants on the essence of confidentiality. She described confidentiality as the cornerstone of professional relationships. She defined confidentiality as “information communicated to the staff for specific purposes relating to the service requested” and that such “information is communicated with the expectation that it will be kept confidential by the staff and the agency involved”. She maintained that confidentiality will enable clients to seek help without fear of stigma, retaliation, disproval or damage to the relationships; and also encourage full disclosure and the maintenance of trust which is essential for effective treatment. She added that the confidential information of a client has its limit as it may be divulged when appropriate, with valid consent from a client, or a person legally authorized to consent on behalf of the client.
In another lecture, Dr. J.O. Omoaregba, during one of his lectures entitled, “Inter-Professional Collaboration” harped on the need for collaboration among the different professionals in order to deliver optimal healthcare to clients. As he stated it, “we all have realized that mental healthcare is made up of different professionals that have to act together constantly for the good of the patients”. According to him, inter-professional collaboration is the practice of approaching patient care from a team based perspective. Simply put, it means several people working from different perspective to provide comprehensive service by working with patients, patients’ relatives or caregivers in order to deliver optimal healthcare. Some of its benefits include: better continuity of care, reduction in the length of hospital stay, better coordination of care, improvement of health outcomes, better client satisfaction, client safety, and the professional job satisfaction and motivation, etc.
On the topic ‘Conflict Management’, Dr. Omoaregba said crisis could arise among workers and patients in the workplace. He defined the concept as “disagreement between two or more individuals or groups”. Conflict could be inter-group and interpersonal in nature which could arise from personality trait, role ambiguity, lack of emotional intelligence, poor communication, poor management of the situation, and lack of support among colleagues. It may result to a negative situation on the one hand and a positive situation on the other hand. While the former include: job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, hostility, negative perception of others, etc, the latter include: stronger relationships and team cohesiveness. According to him, conflict could be managed by identifying the issues, accepting responsibility for one’s fault, allowing the other persons to express their concern, resolving the conflict as early as possible, use of open and honest communication, etc.
The training also featured questions and answer session with the aim of testing the participants level of reflective understanding. The participants expressed appreciation for the resource persons and management for organizing the training for them.
By Favour O. Usiobaifo