The head of rehabilitation and nursing at a Cambridgeshire care group has received certification of the completion of her Master’s degree – a rare level of achievement reached in the social care sector.
Priscilla Masvipurwa, Head of Rehab & Nursing Services and Registered Manager at Askham Village Community, near Doddington in Cambridgeshire, used her Master’s dissertation to explore the role nurses play in care homes to deliver psychology interventions, an area previously uninvestigated in the mainstream and a topic close to her heart.
Her work looked at the lack of framework and structure in place to capture, meet, and deliver the psychological needs of the residents and staff in care homes, finding that people tend to treat the physical health issues without looking into the mental health needs – a mind-set that needs shifting.
Commenting on why she chose to write about the topic, Priscilla said: “No one had looked at the lack of psychological support for people living in care homes. Registered Nurses, more often than not, provide that much needed psychological support with limited resources, addressing such issues without a formalised structure in place. I want people to understand that mental health should be viewed on a continuum where mental health and mental illness are at two extremes. Depending on several factors including availability of support, people maintain good mental health or develop a mental illness. Hence the need for people to be supported to cope with psychological difficulties to reduce the likelihood of developing mental illness.”
She added: “Ultimately, we live in a world where problems are easily medicalised. In care homes, Registered Nurses need to address symptoms of depression or anxiety, particularly establishing in a timely manner whether symptoms are secondary to physical health issues or a result of social issues. Registered Nurses must be equipped with resources including training to assist in early identification of symptoms. They must also provide support to people living in care homes, more so now with a rise in anxiety and depression resulting from the devastating effects of living with pandemic threat.”
During the course of her studies, Priscilla noted that in care homes, while Registered Nurses strive to meet the physical health needs of residents, what really drives recovery forward is good mental health and emotional wellbeing. If this is left unattended then it’s highly likely the individual will remain in care longer than they need to. She puts it down to the individual’s appraisal of the situation and that, no matter what physical health intervention they undergo, automatic negative thoughts that lead to anxiety will stop them from fulfilling their goals or reaching their full potential.
Priscilla’s dissertation concluded that residents living in care homes would benefit from a model that focuses on the interplay between biological, psychological, and socio-environmental factors to give residents a better chance of recovery.
The mother-of-two finished the final year of her Master’s while working full-time for Askham, completing her thesis just prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, which saw her effortlessly juggling appraising her entire team and working on business continuity plans while finishing and proofing her thesis. An achievement Askham’s Operations Director, Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, believes is a testament to her tenacity, curiosity, and competence.
Priscilla, who supports the rehabilitation of people with acquired brain injury and other complex health care needs at Askham, said: “Care homes rarely invest in higher education programmes such as a Master’s degree, but Askham were unrelenting in their support for me from day one. I could have shelved my work when I joined but it made so much sense to write about the environment I was in. It’s only been one year but I’ve learned a lot and grown in an area that is very unique. I’m still learning and enjoying every single day.
“I’ve definitely further developed my skills in carrying out Continuing Health Care, DST assessments, and more so people management from a coaching perspective. It was the right environment for my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Psychology and being able to work with people while studying has helped me hone my coaching skills.”