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Culture shift: carer empowerment and cooperative inquiry

Government policy has directed local services to address the needs of carers as a way of maintaining care in the community. This study was initiated to enable carers to develop an information pack based upon their identified needs. Cooperative inquiry was the method used to ensure full participation of the carers. Group meetings were already in existence through a charity organization who provides a carers support network. The first author participated in a number of carers group meetings. Cooperative inquiry was used to clarify a number of themes identified and reflective cycles ensured that those themes remained relevant. It was found that carers did want to be involved in their relative's care, not as passive recipients but as collaborative care providers. To do this they need to be fully informed of the processes of care provision. Carers need information that is relevant, easily accessible and obtainable in varying degrees of comprehension. This study suggests that a culture shift within mental health nursing is necessary if professionals are to recognize that a perceived lack of support may lead to a breakdown in relationships between the carer, the person being cared for and the professionals.

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Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing

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