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.