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Prevention of involuntary admission through Family Group Conferencing: a qualitative case study in community mental health nursing

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Abstract

Aim

To understand whether and how Family Group Conferencing might contribute to the social embedding of clients with mental illness.

Background

Ensuring the social integration of psychiatric clients is a key aspect of community mental health nursing. Family Group Conferencing has potency to create conditions for clients' social embedding and subsequently can prevent coercive measures.

Design

A naturalistic qualitative case study on the process of one conference that was part of 41 conferences that had been organized and studied from January 2011–September 2013 in a public mental health care setting in the north of the Netherlands.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews (N = 20) were conducted with four stakeholder groups (N = 13) involved in a conference on liveability problems in a local neighbourhood wherein a man with schizophrenia resides.

Findings

To prevent an involuntary admission to a psychiatric ward of a man with schizophrenia, neighbourhood residents requested a family group conference between themselves, the sister of the man and the mental health organization. As a possible conference aggravated psychotic problems, it was decided to organize it without the client. Nine months after the conference, liveability problems in the neighbourhood had been reduced and coercive measures adverted. The conference strengthened the community and resulted in a plan countering liveability problems.

Conclusion

The case indicates that social embedding of clients with severe psychiatric problems can be strengthened by Family Group Conferencing and that hence coercive measures can be prevented. A shift is required from working with the individual client to a community driven approach.

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