Integrated Practice in Mental Health
Mathew Keen and Kieran O'Donoghue
This chapter concludes the ecological systems section and is presented in the form of a conversation on the topic of integrated practice in mental health social work. The areas covered in this conversation are the authors' interpretation of integrated practice and its place in the ecological systems tradition, its application in the inpatient mental health setting and with the indigenous and settler populations living in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The chapter concludes with an evaluation of integrated practice. Before presenting the conversation we will briefly describe the setting and environment where the conversation takes place.
Mathew and Kieran meet in the main corridor outside the doors of Ward 21, in Palmerston North Hospital. Ward 21 is a 24-bed purpose-designed acute inpatient mental health ward, with six of these beds capable of being separated into two three-bed areas for consumers requiring the high needs assessment and treatment. The ward opened in November 2001. Mathew swipes his card to let us in and we walk through the open layout of the ward past the windowed office and a series of interview rooms to Mathew's office in the staff section.
Our initial conversation concerns how the new ward environment has affected the consumers, staff and practice. Mathew reports that a number of consumers who had experience of the old ward prefer this new ward, because of its cleaner and more pleasant appearance. Mathew also said that for the staff, the new working environment had helped in a key 'mindshift' into the recovery focus that has been a significant part of a wider culture change in mental health.
After discussing the unit we talked about Mathew's role as sole inpatient social worker. He described it as diverse, providing social work services at the concrete end of the spectrum: assisting consumers with basic living needs such as accommodation and income, addressing legal matters, network development