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Physical health nurse consultant role to improve physical health in mental health services: A carer's perspective
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Brenda Happell, K Wilson, Chris Platania-PhungChris Platania-Phung, Robert StantonRobert Stanton
The physical health of people diagnosed with a mental illness is significantly poorer in comparison with the general population. Awareness of this health disparity is increasing; however, strategies to address the problem are limited. Carers play an important role in the physical health care of people with mental illness, particularly in facilitating navigation of and advocating in the health care system. A specialist physical health nurse consultant position has been suggested as a way to address the physical health care disparity and limited research available suggests that positive outcomes are possible. In the present study, a qualitative exploratory research project was undertaken, involving in-depth interviews with people identifying as mental health carers. Two focus groups and one individual interview were conducted involving a total of 13 carers. The resulting data were analyzed thematically. Views and opinions about the proposed physical health nurse consultant (PHNC) position were sought during these interviews and are reported in this paper. Two main sub-themes were evident relating to characteristics of this role: reliability and consistency; and communication and support. Essentially carers expressed a need for support for themselves and consumers in addressing physical health concerns. Successful implementation of this position would require a consistent and reliable approach. Carers are significant stakeholders in the physical health of consumers of mental health services and their active involvement in identifying and tailoring services, including development of the physical health nurse consultant must be seen as a priority.