Caregiving and receiving experiences in UK community mental health services during COVID-19 pandemic restrictions: A qualitative, co-produced study

Jane McKeown*, Valentina Short, Elizabeth Newbronner, Ellie Wildbore, Carrie-Ann Black

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


WHAT IS KNOWN ON THE SUBJECT?: At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, little was known about ways of delivering registered nurse practice within CMHTs under restrictions associated with a global pandemic. Emerging research focused on broad healthcare staff wellbeing during the pandemic. Qualitative research explored the overall response of COVID-19 on people with existing health needs or remote working more specifically. Over the past 2 years studies have emerged detailing experiences but no studies have used qualitative research to understand community mental health nurses and service users experience of services. WHAT THE PAPER ADDS TO EXISTING KNOWLEDGE?: This co-produced qualitative study is the first to explore the changes to CMHT care from the experience of service users and nurses later in the COVID-19 pandemic. The study questions whether recovery-based approaches are possible in a hybrid way of working. The findings identify challenges for nurses' well-being and work-life boundaries when working from home. The study adds to historical professional narratives of mental health nursing. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: While hybrid approaches developed in response to COVID-19 restrictions may offer more choice these approaches need further co-produced evaluation on the impact of recovery-focused care and therapeutic relationships. Mental health nurses need to review how future hybrid working continues to impact nurses' mental health and emotional safety. Nurses and service users need to raise awareness within society and policy on the impact that COVID-19 had on people with existing mental health conditions. ABSTRACT: Introduction Community Mental Health Team responses to COVID-19 included fundamental service delivery adaptations. Aim/Question Our co-produced study sought to understand which service delivery changes experienced by service users and registered nurses were helpful or unhelpful to caregiving and receiving. Method Qualitative semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 10 service users and 13 registered nurses from 3 NHS England sites. Co-produced throughout, people with lived experience of mental health services and nurses wishing to improve their research experience undertook interviews following training. Data were analysed thematically. Findings Care radically changed from in-person to large phone or video contact. This reportedly altered therapeutic relationship building and raised questions about whether recovery-focused care was possible. Hybrid working was viewed as helpful but raised challenges for nurse wellbeing. Discussion Changes to care delivery challenged the fundamentals of recovery-focused interventions and therapeutic relationships. Service users and nurses well-being consequently suffered. The impact of the pandemic on people with existing mental health conditions was poorly acknowledged in the media. Implications for Practice Recovery-focused interventions and relationship building need evaluating in the light of ongoing hybrid working. Teams need to consider the well-being of nurses engaged in complex service-user interactions from home.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of psychiatric and mental health nursing
Early online date7 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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