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J Interprof Care. 2003 Aug;17(3):282-91.

Increasing the vocational focus of the community mental health team.

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Institute for Applied Health & Social Policy, King's College London, UK.


Despite increasing interest in the UK in enabling community mental health teams to support clients' vocational aspirations, surveys suggest that progress to date has been slow. This study aimed to identify factors that facilitate or create barriers to teams engaging in vocational work by exploring experiences and perceptions at three sites where progress had been made. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with on-site and off-site vocational specialists, care coordinators and other professionals identified locally as supportive of vocational work. Participants' accounts were compared with a framework derived from previous research into effective vocational services. The framework encompassed partnership working, attention to clients' needs, choices and mental health, and enabling clients to access and retain employment. Interprofessional partnership working emerged as particularly strong at one site and in turn was key to facilitating attention to the other elements of the framework. Conversely, at the other two sites less well-developed partnership working could create barriers to addressing these elements. Across all three sites access to expert welfare benefits advice was problematic, with evidence of widespread ignorance about the crucial issues involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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