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Research output: Giving those involved in mental health and intellectual disability a voice

Ara's Chris Taua is exploring the issues surrounding the mental health inpatient care of people with intellectual disability and mental health (dual disability).

Taua has interviewed mental health nurses, people with dual disability and carers throughout various regions in New Zealand.

Using the principles of an "Appreciative Inquiry" methodology, which is a perspective that centres on participant's positive experiences; a 'glass half full' ideology, she explored the experiences of care in inpatient setting.

"So much of the research around the mental health/disability area is problem focused, looking for the problem to be solved," Taua says.

"Instead of focusing on the negatives and trying to change them, I explored 'what works' using that as the basis for ongoing development."

The major challenges have been convincing protective carers to let people with dual disability participate and taking the time to ensure participants really understood to what they were consenting.

She has been completing the research as part of her PhD studies through the University of Queensland and her hard work earned her a prestigious New Zealand Fulbright Travel Award. As a result of that award, Taua presented her research at the College of Education Colloquium and to the School of Nursing at the University of Hawaii.

Taua says the wider implication of the research is to develop a focussed model of care for nursing in this field; a model informed by all parties to the care relationship.

"Current evidence suggests that nursing in this specialty is one that commonly defaults to generic mental health or disability nursing models, and nurse's struggle with the complexities of the dual diagnoses."

Taua's work, particularly around informed consent, has already been published in books and journals such as the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing and Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.

The data collection has taken Taua well over a year and she is now ready to present preliminary findings regarding the experiences of the dual disability cohort in a paper titled "Talk to Me- Meaningful stories from the inpatient setting' at Ara Research Month on Thursday August 14 at 12.30.