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2018, June 14th, University of Greenwich Maritime Campus, Stockwell St

SKELLERN LECTURE, Dr Geoff Brennan, -  ‘The Dark Art of Motivating Inpatient Mental Health Nurses’

Introduced by Mary Chambers

Lecture Synopsis: Let’s be honest – I’m not a “researcher” in the sense of qualitative or quantitative research papers. What I have done over the years has been to work in the messy area of trying to assist actual nurses in actual wards to actually change their way of nursing.  So my lecture would be a short hop through what I have learnt about this.  On the way I will look at some of my favourite “pet hate” phrases, such as (“what we need here is a quick win..”) and why they might make sense in a Harvard Business School seminar but not as much on the Peckham  Inpatient ward.  This lecture will look at projects and models I have some knowledge of and synthesise some key thoughts, such as:

- What are the blocks to change on wards?

- Why have projects such as Safewards and Starwards been so well received on the ground floor?

- How do we proceed in a climate of negative press, severe cuts and the lack of a public “voice” for nursing?

I warn you – there will be more pictures than graphs, Peplau may sneak in somewhere and I will be trying for as many laughs as I can get away with.


Introduced by Len Bowers

Trained as a mental health and general nurse, Phil has higher degrees in education, and has been a nurse educator for more than 30 years. He has published more 38 books and more than 300 journal papers. A number of his books have run to 4th editions and have been translated into several languages.  In 1996 he was made a Fellow of the Florence Nightingale Foundation in recognition of ‘an outstanding contribution to nurse education and for promotion of international understanding’.  And in 2012 he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing.  In 2005, Burnard and Morrison’s paper on nurses’ perceptions of their interpersonal skills (1991) was republished in the 25th Anniversary edition of Nurse Education Today as one of ten papers which editorial board members had found either exemplary or particularly useful.

Burnard’s 1991 paper on the analysis of qualitative data, was, in the same edition of Nurse Education Today identified as the most cited paper published in the history of the journal. 

His work is internationally renowned and he has been invited to lecturer in: Australia, Ireland, US, Hong Kong, China, Brunei, Thailand, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, Kenya, Curacao.

Themes of the books have included counselling, interpersonal skills, HIV/AIDS counselling, clinical supervision and mentorship, computing, writing for publication, spirituality in nursing, forensic mental health nursing, research methods, professional and ethical issues in nursing.  His papers have been published in a wide range of national and international journals, and his projects have straddled a range of interests in counselling, self-disclosure, interpersonal skills training, stress and culture and communication in nursing and in risk communication. The findings of the latter were published as a Cochrane review. He has research links with Hong Kong, Australia and Brunei and has undertaken invited lecture tours in Finland and Australia.  He was a visiting professor at the Royal Thai Army Nursing College, for 10 years.

He practised as a mental health nurse from 1969-1980 and was a charge nurse in a psychiatric medical ward for very disturbed patients. In 1980 he moved to nurse education and has taught at all levels, from certificate courses through to taught doctorates, supervising many PhD, MPhil and MSc students.  He has been Director of Postgraduate Research Studies at Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies. He has been an invited, expert research proposal reviewer for the English and Irish governments, has helped to set up outreach nursing MSc programmes in the Netherlands, Greece and Caribbean, and helped set up an MSc in HIV/AIDS counselling for the clergy in Kenya – the first of its kind in an African country.  He has also been involved in inter-professional teaching and helped to set up and teach a communication skills course for medical students at the College of Medicine. In the 80’s, he helped mental health students to develop communication skills via ‘experiential learning’.  In 1998 he was promoted to a Personal Chair at the University of Wales and given emeritus status when he retired.

The 2018 Skellern Lecturer and JPHMN Lifetime Achievement was held this year at the University of Greenwich, and co-hosted with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, and the Director of Nursing Jane Wells welcomed the audience.  This year’s Skellern Laureate was Geoff Brennan and his lecture had the enigmatic title: ‘The Dark Art of Motivating Inpatient Mental Health Nurses’.  Though there was little that might be described as dark, in his lecture Brennan was able to tell us how he goes about facilitating staff to find their strengths, and how he helps staff to shape up their own successful therapeutic ward community environments.  Inspired by Marion Janner, a former service-user (and JPMHN Lifetime Achievement Recipient) and Professor Len Bowers, Brennan reflected on why projects such as Safewards and Starwards have been so well received on the ground.  Not only does the model work, there is also Brennan’s personal hint of unseen magic, his capacity for humour, and an unstinting compassion and belief in human potential.  (GW)

The evening also featured a special presentation from the University of Greenwich mental health nursing students to Dr Deborah Watkins for her inspirational teaching.  

Evening Schedule

6.00pm Evening Chair:  Dr Deborah Watkins

Welcome  addresses:

Jane Wells, Director of Nursing, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

6.10pm Special contribution award

(nominated by University of Greenwich Students)

6.15pm   Introduction to Skellern Lecture:

Professor Mary Chambers  

6.25pm SKELLERN LECTURE 2018:  Geoff Brennan - The Dark Art of Influencing in-patient MHNs.

7.15pm Plaque presentation:   Catherine Gamble

7.20pm Refreshments & buffet

8.00 Introduction to JPMHN Lifetime Achievement Award:  

Professor Ben Hannigan

8.10pm JPHMN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:  Professor Phil Burnard

8.50pm Plaque presentation: Michael Coffey

8.55pm Vote of thanks

The 2018 JPMHN Lifetime Achievement appointee was Professor Phil Burnard of Cardiff University.  Many nurses and other health care professionals owe Phil Burnard a debt of gratitude for all that he has done, via his books and articles, where he has illuminated interactional and interpersonal skills, how to do face-to-face communication better, how to do research and how to write for publication in ways which are immediately understandable and accessible.  Burnard has been a prolific author, and Liam Clarke once quipped that; ‘Burnard is a man who has never had an unpublished thought’.  If you go to the Amazon UK you will find seven pages of books listed that Phil has written, co-written or edited. If you go to the Scopus database you’ll find details of 181 articles Phil has written, with one of them – A method of analysing interview transcripts in qualitative research, published in Nurse Education Today in 1991 – attracting well over 1,000 citations, 28 of which are in papers published in 2018.  Phil has been a longstanding Fellow of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, and in 2012 became a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing.  Phil Burnard's address was a gentle humorous virtuoso tour of his life, work and struggles, with some profound reflections on the field psychiatric and mental health nursing.  Phil received hearty and lengthy applause and a standing ovation.  (GW)


Skellern: Geoff Brennan, Mick Mckeown

JPMHN Lifetime Award: Phil Burnard, Isaac Marks.

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