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Call for nurses to help mental health service users find work

A survey revealing community mental health service users’ demands for greater support with obtaining work and accommodation has prompted a call for nurses to play a greater role in these areas.

The Care Quality Commission surveyed 17,000 service users, over two-fifths of whom had care plans outlining a response to their often complex needs and identifying a named care coordinator.

Of those on a care plan, 35% said they needed help finding or keeping work but did not receive it from their mental health service, despite guidance stating they should. Similarly, 27 per cent said they did not receive the required help with housing and finances.

CQC mental health policy lead Nicola Vick said it was to the credit of community psychiatric nurses that most service users responded positively to the care they received.

Ms Vick said although community mental health teams as a whole were responsible for supporting service users, because nurses were the professionals service users saw the most, they could “support people in achieving the goals they set for their own lives, addressing their holistic needs”.

She said: “The national policy has shifted - it isn’t just about addressing people’s mental health symptoms, it’s about promoting recovery in all aspects of their life.”

Only 15% of respondents said they were in regular paid work. Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan noted called on mental health services to “do more to ensure that people with mental health problems find and keep work”.

Mental Health Nurses Association member Chris Webb said the problem was “inconsistency of support” from other services. “We will always struggle to meet everybody’s needs all of the time, we are nurses we are not social workers,” she said.

Readers' comments (14)

  • So now Nurses are supposed to be job centre recruiters as well now? Nurses already take on management roles, admin, Doctors duties, Physios, Pharmacies, even bloody cleaners, why not just add a few more titles to the pile then!? We CANNOT do EVERYONES jobs and still function within our own!!!!

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  • mike | 15-Aug-2011 11:51 am

    come on Mike, you can do better than that, your list above is very limited! nurses already do everything. at least I can't think of many jobs I have not undertaken in my nursing career, except perhaps, to be honest, that of job centre recruiter - that really would be a novelty!

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  • I agree with 'mike | 15-Aug-2011 11:51 am
    Do not forget psychologist, pet feeder, housing manager etc. It seems that psychiatric nurses are expected to treat and solve all of the problems experience by service users either in hospital or the community. Yet if you request for an extra member of staff it is met with sorry there is no money to employ extra staff. Yet they are meant to be all these services in the community design to help service users but I have notice as soon as difficulty sets in the nurse is the one who has to solve the problem.

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  • as I see it nurses should be supporting patients to solve their own problems. nurses shouldn't be providing their solutions for them. this provides no benefits for the patient if everything is handed to him/her on a plate.

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  • Anonymous | 15-Aug-2011 9:02 pm sorry, I'll try better next time, too busy doing everyone else's job for them at the moment! ;D

    Anonymous | 15-Aug-2011 10:48 pm I totally agree, I think that is part of a much larger problem within the paradigm of our health service, there is not enough personal responsibility on the part of the general public and the health and social services are all too quick to make excuses for people and give them everything on a plate rather than giving them the tools/information to do things themselves.

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  • Has anyone heard of the Clubhouse model, its been in uk for the past 20 years....

    it works to work!

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  • let's stop calling patients 'service users' for a start. this is a particularly offensive euphemism and creates suspicion and ridicule among both professions and the public alike.

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  • Marty I totally agree. They are patients. End of.

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  • Until very recently, there was the Condition Management Programme which, in my region, involved partnership working between NHS professionals and staff from Job Centres. They (Adult Nurses, Mental Health Nurses, Physios and OTs) worked with people in receipt of a health-related benefit for any reason, whether it be mental health, physical illness or both, through a supported self-help programme. There were variations in the way this service was run throughout the UK. We had a very high success rate in enabling people to return to work, and remaining there. Some other programmes used different models.

    The government pulled the funding, changed the conditionality of health benefits and basically made it tougher for those requiring help to access it. The attitude is that if you are not working, due to a health issue, that's your choice. Don't expect the government to waste money helping you back on your feet again. That is the society we are now living in and seems to have a fair amount of support. As a foot note, health professionals pay no attention whatsoever to patients ability to work or not. They don't see it as part of their role. That applies to equally to Mental Health and General Health services. It isn't about finding jobs for patients. Rather, there needs to increased awareness of the impact of unemployment on patients and their health; and being aware of referral routes for help......if the government hasn't scrapped them all.

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  • Marty, as an ex 'service user' myself, then a Support Worker and now a student Mental Health Nurse, I always preferred being called a service user rather than a patient.

    So far in my work and training I have not come across anyone (as far as I know) who has said they do not like the term.

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  • I have no time for the CQC. However, the lack of support towards employment is nothing new.

    I agree with Anonymous | 18-Aug-2011 6:43 pm. The employment status of patients is given very little, if any, consideration by Nurses. Why do any of us go to work? To do something useful and productive with our day? To interact with others? To earn enough money to live, pay our way in life? Support our family? Self respect? Now take away meaningful occupation and how much more difficult does recovery become?

    If we want patients or service users to take responsibility for their own health, then we have to be a part of enabling and supporting that. Now that does not mean finding them jobs. Chris Webb was correct when she pointed to the "inconsistency of support". However, she was wrong to imply that approaching the subject of employment was just the job of Social Workers. The support programmes, like Condition Management Programme, should be available. Nurses should be able to bring up the subject of employment and refer on to relevant help. This is important.

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  • Cor who'd have thought we'd actually miss psychiatric social workers?

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  • in my integrated community team, social care is chargeable whilst nursing care is free. get the nurses to do the lot and the patient/client/consumer/service user gets it all free! hooray!

    get the social care staff to do assessments, prescribe, administer, etc. coz the nurses won't have time! boo!

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