2011 issue 3

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Volume 20, issue 3

Original paper

Interdisciplinary team – a new quality in community mental health care

Paweł Bronowski1, Maryla Sawicka1
1. Instytut Psychologii Stosowanej, Akademia Pedagogiki Specjalnej, Warszawa
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2011; 20(3): 193-199
Keywords: support, interdisciplinary team, community psychiatry

Abstract

Background and objectives. The interdisciplinary team is the core of any efficiently functioning community support system. Activities of the team usually include social activation, training in new skills, and providing support in daily life. Community-based systems of rehabilitation and support for the mentally ill rely on non-medical staff, nowadays quite numerous throughout the country. Although these facilities have been functioning in Poland for a long time, little is known about their staff. The aim of this study was to characterize the staff of community care facilities in two residential districts of Warsaw (Targówek and Białołęka), with the emphasis on major difficulties encountered by staff members in their work and their need for support.
Method. Participants in the study were 30 staff members employed in community social support services. The main research tool, i.e. a questionnaire developed for the purposes of the study, allowed to collect data on the respondents' therapeutic specialty, their place of employment and length of employment, job description, job satisfaction, and reported occupational problems.
Results. A majority of our respondents were university graduates of pedagogy, while the least numerous group were occupational therapists by training. Their basic responsibilities included social activation, occupational therapy, and providing support in self-dependent daily life. Occupational activation, job seeking and contacts with employers were the least often indicated tasks in the job description. Aggressive behaviors of the charges and difficulties in co-operation with the mental health care system were regarded as the most important occupational problems.
Conclusions. Community care to people with mental disorders is presently provided in Poland to a large extent by non-medical teams not linked directly to the psychiatric care system, but rather to that of social welfare and to non-governmental organizations. Such teams will probably develop, growing in numbers and importance. It seems worthwhile considering how to support them and how to develop effective lines of communication with the mental health care system. At present the two milieus work to a large degree separately. Moreover, there is an obvious need for a nationwide training program aimed at improvement of professional skills required in work with the mentally ill in the community.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Paweł Bronowski
Instytut Psychologii Stosowanej, Akademia Pedagogiki Specjalnej
ul. Szczęśliwicka 40, 02-353 Warszawa
mail: pawel.bronowski@icar.org.pl