Thorn has become synonymous with best practice for the care and treatment of people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness and psychosocial interventions. The original Thorn course was funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, to train community psychiatric nurses in offering effective care to people with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness. The first programmes commenced in 1992 and were delivered at two sites, The Institute of Psychiatry, London and The University of Manchester. Today there are currently eleven Thorn validated courses within the UK. The client focus of the course has expanded over the past sixteen years to include people with a diagnosis of bi-polar affective disorder, schizo-affective disorder, severe depression, hallucinosis and delusional disorder.
Getting started in the THORN validation process.
The teachers on the course must be THORN graduates and the curriculum must embrace:
1. Working collaboratively with service users and carers/families.
2. A biopsychosical philosophy.
3. Practitioner therapeutic optimism
4. Strengths ethos, in content and language.
5. Recovery focus
6. Social Inclusion: for the individual, family and community.
7. The Vulnerability-stress model and a Normalising Rationale
8. Multidisciplinary/agency working, learning and teaching
9. Clinical case management
10. Clinical Supervision
Who should do the THORN Course?
The THORN Course is appropriate for all mental health professionals who work with individuals with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness.
Values and Philosophy
1. To enable practitioners to employ an open and collaborative therapeutic approach which seeks to understand and value the experiences of service users and their families/carers.
2. To foster an attitude of therapeutic optimism in practitioners in which the aim of interactions is to increase the user's ability to build on their strengths, adapt to and cope with difficulties, facilitate social inclusion, and promote maximal recovery from the illness.
3. To provide practitioners with training in evidence based therapeutic psychosocial interventions for people with psychosis, which are informed by the vulnerability-stress models of psychotic illness.
4. To enable practitioners to acquire the knowledge and the therapeutic skills required to employ evidence based and tailor made psychosocial interventions safely and effectively.
5. To facilitate the development of reflective practitioners, able to evaluate the effectiveness of their work, and to modify their practice with response to changes in the evidence base.
6. To foster, develop and communicate a shared vision, goal and purpose by working within a multi disciplinary and multi agency model of care, where individual opinions, diversities and strengths are valued.
7. To develop an integrated approach to care that sees the need to address fundamental factors such as the need for physical well-being, financial self-sufficiency, decent housing, meaningful occupations and good relationships with others as well as ongoing therapy.
8. To influence practice and policy at a local, regional and national level by promoting research into evidence based educational methods that improve the quality of teaching evidence based practice.
Origin of THORN
The THORN Training Programme owes its beginnings to The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, which was established in 1964 by Sir Jules Thorn. The Trust’s main work is in funding medical research, but it also makes grants for other purposes, particularly those with a humanitarian appeal
The THORN Nurse Initiative (THORN Training Programme) was one of the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust’s Special Projects. Each year the Trustees select a particular theme for the allocation of a significant sum of money, which is usually the subject of competitive bids. In 1991 the Trustees committed funds in excess of £500,000 to what was then termed the Project for Psychiatric Nursing, and later became the THORN Nurse Training Initiative and more recently, The THORN Training Programme. The funding was to provide a new training programme in the preparation of Community Psychiatric Nurses to provide care for people who had serious mental illness. Initially the University of Manchester and the Institute of Psychiatry in London were heavily involved in this scheme, but it was envisaged at the time that new THORN training centres would be set up around Great Britain and Ireland.
Sir Jules’s daughter, who chaired the Trust for many years and is still a trustee, keeps up to date with developments in relation to developments within the THORN Programme.
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Benefits of Thorn
Thorn training has now become the model around which training for mental health practitioners working with individuals with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness (and their families), is based. Initially the Thorn course focused primarily on family work, whereby community psychiatric nurses developed their skills in supporting families through the practical and emotional impact of a diagnosis of severe mental illness. The increasingly higher positive profile mental health is now receiving at local, regional and national strategy development and the increased involvement of service users and their families/carers is reflected in the contemporary nature of the Thorn curriculum.
As a result of these different responses, the THORN curriculum now includes:
1. Recovery (social, psychological, recreational, vocational, educational)
2. Promotion of mental well-being and intervening early when vulnerability is recognised.
3. Promotion of physical health through health promotion and timely treatment when indicated.
4. Keeping Well (relapse prevention)
5. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Psychosis (CBTp)
6. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for anxiety and depression (CBT)
7. Working with Carers and Families
8. Young Carers
9. Building motivation.
10. Shared decision making in medication.