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Title: An investigation into the roles of registered nurses and psychiatric nurses at in-patient psychiatric facilities and its implications for nursing education in KwaZulu-Natal
Authors: Joubert, Perrene Dale 
Issue Date: 2015
Mental health nurses face challenging positions in practice. They are required to support and care for people hospitalised for treatment of mental illnesses on their recovery journeys but are also expected to manage ward administrative tasks, admit patients, attend meetings, dispense medication and communicate with patients (Gunasekara, Pentland, Rodgers and Patterson 2014: 101; Fourie, Mc Donald, Connor and Bartlett 2005: 135). It has been suggested that mental health nurses spend more time managing the ward environment and staff matters resulting in little time to develop and maintain therapeutic patient relationships (Fourie et al. 2005: 135).

Problem Statement
Research conducted in other countries identified the roles of the psychiatric nurse and mental health care nurses as attending to patients’ basic needs, assistance with self-care activities, monitoring and administering medication, ensuring safe environments in the health care setting and health education (Rungapadiachy, Madill and Gough 2004; Bowers 2005; Seed, Torkelson and Alnatour 2010). Although there is evidence of studies in psychiatric and mental health nursing locally, little is known about the roles of registered nurses and psychiatric nurses at in-patient facilities.


• To explore which mental health problems are most commonly seen amongst psychiatric patients at these facilities.
• To investigate the challenges faced by psychiatric nurses when caring for psychiatric patients.
• To investigate what specialized knowledge and skills are required when nursing such patients.

• To investigate whether their education and training prepared them adequately to deal with psychiatric patients and suggest guidelines to strengthen nursing education.

The study utilized a quantitative non-experimental descriptive design to survey registered nurses and psychiatric nurses at in-patient psychiatric facilities in KwaZulu-Natal. A census was utilized in this study as the entire population was sampled. Data were collected using survey questionnaires. Phase two of the study, qualitative content analysis of Psychiatric nursing curricula strengthened the survey findings.

Findings of this study showed that 98.4% of respondents believe psychiatric nursing care is an important aspect of holistic nursing practice. Respondents agree that challenges are commonly encountered in psychiatric nursing practice and that they are prepared to deal with these patients. However the aspects most frequently identified as needing greater attention in the Psychiatric nursing curricula were The Mental Health Care Act no 17 of 2002 and practical management of aggression, violence and de-escalation
Submitted in fulfillment of requirements for the Degree of Master of Technology: Nursing, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2015.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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