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An examination of the role of the mental health nurse in acute inpatient settings in Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: perceptions versus reality
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posted on 18.05.2020by Alasmee, Nofaa Ali
Although the aim of care for consumers is to be treated within the community, some will require care in an acute inpatient facility from time to time. The emphasis of acute inpatient units has evolved to providing assessment and short intense management to consumers as a care continuum approach, especially for those who cannot receive adequate treatment in community settings. Thus, the direction of acute inpatient units is toward reduction of symptoms within a short time. Nevertheless the specific roles of mental health nurses in acute inpatient units continue to be debated.
The aim of this study was to gain a unique insight into the role of mental health nurses in acute inpatient settings and the range of models of care utilised in these units in Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This mixed method study used non-participant observation, interviews, focus groups, and job satisfaction surveys to describe the current role and models of care and measure nurses’ level of satisfaction.
Findings indicate that mental health nurses from both countries believe that their role is focused on the recovery model and that they provide holistic nursing that involves consumers’ mental, physical and psychosocial needs. However, findings also indicate that nurses tended to focus on consumers’ physical and safety needs more than mental health needs.
Moreover, the medical model of care is the dominant model in both Australia and KSA. Australian nurses are more educated and have greater resources at their disposal but they do not utilise them to their advantage. Yet the findings did not reflect a significant dissatisfaction indicating that mental health nurses are satisfied with current work practice.
In conclusion, the findings show a clear disparity between nurses’ perceptions and their actual practice in acute inpatient units. This leads to role ambiguity and confusion. Despite quite different health service systems and cultures, nurses in acute inpatient units in both KSA and Australia resort to ‘safe’ practices and this limits their scope and role.