The following table shows how, of all allied professionals, nurses are the most sought after for treatment. They come next only to occupational therapists in dispensing psychological counseling to the patients.
TABLE –Profession of initial assessor for mental health.
Values in parentheses are percentages.
Assessor’s profession (n=378) (n=100)
Medical: 123 (33) 33 (33)
Consultant 36 (10) 6 (6)
Clinical assistant 40 (11) 1 (1)
Senior registrar 16 (4) 0
Registrar 24 (6) 20 (20)
Senior house officer 7 (2) 6 (6)
Non-medical: 255 (68) 67 (67)
Social worker 62 (16) 25 (25)
Community psychiatric nurse 85 (23) 24 (24)
Occupational therapist 86 (23) 18 (18)
Psychologist 22 (6) 0 (Bradley et. al., 2006)
These days, with the growing number of identified mental disorders, caring for patients at their homes has become commonplace. Subsequently “inpatient medical care, rehabilitation and convalescence is often continued and completed in the community”. County and liaison nurses have a role to play in continuing patient care after discharge from hospital. Most of these nurses are generally employed by hospitals and offer their professional services and serve as a link between the healthcare industry and autonomous community health centers. Their competence and skills can determine how successfully patients have adapted to their home/community environment from the confines of the hospital. These nurses can also “liaise with social service departments and help to assess patients’ needs; identify and respond to problems occurring at the point of discharge; and improve communication between services” (Pushpangadan, 1996) . Here too Nursing Officers should encourage their team to acquire additional skills (mostly Public Relations skills) in order to fulfill their expanded role in a community care environment. Their range of skills in the new post-hospitalization period is succinctly captured in the following lines:
“Nurses provide treatment and support to patients and their caregivers within a variety of community settings–patients’ own homes, health centers, and residential homes. They are key people in the community; the vast range of their work includes practical work such as dressing ulcers and pressure sores, maintaining bowel and bladder care and giving injections, as well as supportive components–for example, in palliative care. Referrals for continued nursing care are through general practitioners or through hospital based doctors or nurses. This service has usually been available in the daytime only, but some areas now have a night nursing service. Specialists nurses provide specific services such as palliative care, continence management, alongside regular psychiatric services.” (Pushpangadan, 1996)