Articulating the role of the community mental health nurse
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Presented at ACMHN's 40th International Mental Health Nursing Conference Honouring the Past, Shaping the Future, Oct 7-9 2014. Melbourne, Vicotria.
Shifting from institutional care to tertiary services providing acute treatment to those experiencing mental illness sees the evolution of community based mental health services. Literature identifies many issues and challenges in providing case management, a model that appears to have a limited evidence base for implementing service delivery (Beebe, Adams & El-Mallakh, 2011). Despite this case-management is a hall mark of community based mental health care. Varying definitions of case management/models add little to articulate the role of the community mental health nurse (CMHN) (Happell 2012). This research aimed to identify components of community mental health care and the contribution that CMHN’s made to service delivery within the multidisciplinary team. Previous data collected reflected inconsistencies with nurse’s perceived role and actual data collected. This project expanded on work undertaken within the Fremantle Hospital Mental Health Service, Western Australia. A Quality Improvement activity examined and clarified nurses’ perception of their role. Focus groups were conducted with CMHN’s within the service. A data collection tool was developed and education provided to record activities. Data was collected over four weeks, collated, analysed and reported on. 1420 hours of data was collected. Data suggested that at Fremantle CMHN delivered high levels of face to face care, caseloads were at a level to avoid burnout however identification of physical health needs remained a weakness, reflecting previous identified trends across community mental health service delivery. Results provide a contemporary body of knowledge enhancing existing literature and provide the platform for further research/ development of the CMHN role.
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