Original Research

Experiences of nurses caring for mental health care users in an acute admission unit at a psychiatric hospital in the Western Cape Province

Zintle C. Sobekwa, Sathasivan Arunachallam
Curationis | Vol 38, No 2 | a1509 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v38i2.1509 | © 2015 Zintle C. Sobekwa, Sathasivan Arunachallam | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 March 2015 | Published: 18 December 2015

About the author(s)

Zintle C. Sobekwa, Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
Sathasivan Arunachallam, School of Nursing, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

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Background: Caring for mental health care users (MHCUs) with mental illnesses is a major task that confronts nurses globally. It has been argued that caring for this group of patients is accompanied by unique challenges. Despite the available abundance of data about nursing patients suffering from mental illnesses, little is known about the lived experiences of nurses who care for MHCUs in acute admission units in the Western Cape province.

Objectives: This study’s aim is to explore and describe the lived experiences of nurses who care for MHCUs in an acute admission unit at a psychiatric hospital in the Western Capeprovince.

Methods: A qualitative, descriptive, phenomenological study was conducted. A purposive sampling procedure was applied which resulted in a sample that comprised eight nurses. Indepth, individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted with these eight participants. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim and the researcher utilised Collaizzi’s method to analyse collected data.

Results: Both positive and negative experiences were reported. Positive experiences werethe recovery of patients, teamwork, and passion for caring. Negative experiences were thefeelings of being unappreciated and unsupported by authorities. Physical assault by MHCUs,shortage of staff, increased workload and burnout was also reported.

Conclusions: In-service training about management of aggression needs to be provided,debriefing sessions to deal with burnout needs to be arranged, and research to quantify levelsof burnout should be conducted.


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