​Trauma-Informed Healthcare: What It Is And Why We Need It

​The need for trauma-informed healthcare is urgent in the UK. Trauma is something that is becoming more and more common as a result of violence, sexual abuse and combat. However, many people are dealing with the effects of trauma and aren’t getting the help they need to overcome it. Could a trauma-informed healthcare system provide the way forward to address this?

Trauma and PTSD in the UK

Stories of sexual abuse, violence and war are becoming more commonplace in the media, highlighting the need to refer patients with PTSD for treatment as soon as possible. Providing those with PTSD with help is important, and it’s important to recognise the different needs of PTSD patients to make sure they receive the right healthcare.

Last year, it was reported that PTSD rates have increased amongst members of the armed forces, affecting around 6% of current and ex-serving military personnel. However, PTSD affects many people following many different life events, and sufferers could show symptoms at any time.

Signs of trauma in patients

The symptoms of PTSD can vary in patients, and symptoms can take months or even years to appear. Symptoms tend to be categorised into different elements, including re-experiencing (which includes flashbacks, nightmares and even physical experiences), avoidance and emotional numbing, feeling on edge (known as hyper arousal), as well as other mental health conditions including anxiety, depression and addiction.

While many patients’ symptoms improve after a few weeks, others will need further treatment to help manage them and their feelings. This is why trauma-informed healthcare is important; to ensure that those suffering trauma get the appropriate medical treatment they need.

Trauma-informed healthcare treatment

When treating patients with PTSD, using trauma-informed healthcare puts the patient at the centre of their care plan. This ensures a tailored approach which is based on the individual. By being able to assess a patient’s needs, they can receive care that takes their trauma into account and provides them with the best outcome.

Last year, the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) published new guidelines around treating PTSD, proposing that GPs refer patients within a month of experiencing trauma. The previous approach was to ‘watch and wait’ in patients with milder symptoms of PTSD. The guidelines highlight the need for patients to receive in-depth information about the treatments available to them, taking their individual needs into consideration.

Through providing better trauma-informed healthcare, patients can be better informed about their options and understand the treatments that are in their best interests.

PTSD can affect people at different stages, and may require help at different points. Out of hours services, for example, could be one place where patients can seek the help they need during the day or at the weekend. Ensuring practice staff are equipped with knowledge about the signs of trauma, and best approaches for managing them can help provide the best outcome for patients. With PTSD becoming more commonly recognised, it’s important that sufferers get the help they need as soon as possible.