This week I have started my first placement as a second year mental health nurse, and this time it is in the community working alongside the Community Mental Health Nurse (CMHN). When I initially found out that I had been assigned to the community I was really pleased, as up until now, I have always spent time on the wards. I thought that it would be fun to be out and about visiting people in their homes, and so far on the placement, it is proving really enjoyable.
Before starting, I had read a few articles on the role of the CMHN, as I wanted to learn more about what the role entailed. In fact, one of my learning objectives was to obtain a good general overview of what the job involved. I was therefore really surprised when my mentor explained to me, that CMHNs do not really exist anymore. CMHNs are nowadays known more commonly as CPNs – Community Psychiatric Nurses – but this title, and role, has been replaced in many areas by the more general term of Care Co-ordinator.
A Care Co-ordinator’s job can be fulfilled by a Mental Health Nurse, a Social Worker or an Occupational Therapist. The three professions, in many districts, are becoming as one. I can understand in many ways how this has come about, because already I can see how many duties overlap, such as visiting people in their homes to offer general support. On a basic level, all of these professionals are intent upon helping people to manage their lives, whether it is on an emotional or a practical level.
Within the Community Mental Health Team where I am working at present, I am working alongside the CPN, and she has encouraged me to spend a day working alongside the Social Worker and Occupational Therapist, in order for me to judge how the roles differ, if at all. To this end, I have made arrangements to spend a day with each of these professionals, and am greatly looking forward to finding out what each of these days will bring.
From what I have seen of the CPN’s or Care Co-ordinator’s role this week, it is a fast-paced assortment of many tasks. My mentor and I have visited many clients to provide emotional support and practical advice in their homes; we have taken clients on specific visits and have assisted them with phone calls. At the health centre, we have administered medication to visiting clients. In the office, we have completed paperwork, made lots of phone calls to clients and other professionals, and have liaised with other team members during face-to-face meetings. The CPN’s role is undoubtedly busy and varied. Each CPN has a caseload of clients that they are responsible for, and it has been wonderful for me to witness first-hand, the trust, care and positivity that is invested into these relationships. Take it from me, whatever the Community Mental Health Nurses are called; they are definitely doing an absolutely fantastic job, and also one that is very important.