Psychosocial Rehabilitation: The Role of the Psychiatric Nurse


THE roles and functions of Nurses working in Rehabilitation Psychiatry are varied and com-plex, new challenges are arising out of historical and emerging contexts. This paper explores problems faced by the Psychiatric Nurse and explains some of the functions and roles that contribute to the rehabilitation process. NATURE OF THE PROBLEM FROM STUDIES carried out by Wing (1978) and Wing and Morris (1981) three types of Psychiatric disabilities can be distinguished: 1 Primary impairments, these usually consist of psy-chiatric symptoms. 2 Secondary handicaps, based on adverse personal reactions as a consequence of having been psychiatri-cally ill. 3 Tertiary handicaps, consisting of social disablements which are either the consequence of the disturbance, or reflect pre-existing factors of deprivation and disadvantage. The primary impairments caused by the psychiatric symptoms may lead to hospitalization and initial treatment, but it is usually the secondary and tertiary handicaps that are cited as to why the patient remains in hospital or needs continuing supportive care in the community (Shepherd, 1984). Psychiatric rehabilitation has been defined as &dquo;The process of identifying and preventing or minimising those causes (social disablement) while, at the same time, helping the individual to develop or use his or her talents and thus to acquire confidence and self-esteem through success in social roles&dquo; (Royal College of Psychiatrists. 198()). Much of this process is carried out by Psychiatric Nurses. &dquo;A day to day working defi-nition of psychiatric nursing is that it consists of a combination of procedural, custodial and therapeutic skills which nurses perform in relation to their patients&dquo

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