The recent emphasis on community care for those with mental illness has changed working patterns and modified interprofessional role boundaries within multi-disciplinary teams. Clients with serious mental illness are usually prescribed medications, which have a wide range of side effects. However, it is uncertain who is responsible for monitoring clients for the side effects of their medications, ensuring clients' and carers' understandings of their prescribed medications and optimizing compliance with medication. This paper discusses the findings of the first phase of an ongoing study designed to assess the role of community mental health nurses* (CMHNs) in managing clients' medication and the provision of appropriate continuing professional education. Our respondents were 14 CMHNs, seven of whom were preparing to undertake a pharmacology module as part of a higher education diploma, and seven who were to act as comparators. Data from questionnaires, interviews and clinical observations were triangulated. All respondents felt that issues surrounding clients' medication were not accorded a sufficiently high profile and that it was, in part, their responsibility to expand their roles to meet these unmet needs of clients. Administering and managing clients' medications were considered to be the main area of 'occupational territory' which distinguished CMHNs from social workers. However, the nurses felt that their practice was limited by lack of appropriate educational preparation.
- Pharmacology education
- medication monitoring
- community mental health nursing