Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Nursing


School of Nursing


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Rick Watters

Second Advisor

Claudette Kelly

Third Advisor

Judith Davis


Major mental disorder, with prolonged periods of dysfunction that require long term care, is an issue of concern amongst mental health professionals. Although substantial effort and resources are devoted towards returning mentally ill individuals to the community, one of the most distinctive and consistent features of the persistently mentally ill (PMI) is their high rate of readmission to hospital. Existing studies into discharge planning revealed that no research had been undertaken to determine if this is the case in Western Australia. This study sought to investigate perceptions of discharge planning held by patients, carers, nurses and allied health workers involved in discharge preparation in a major metropolitan psychiatric hospital operated by the Health Department of Western Australia. Eighty one subjects were selected from the four principal groups involved in care in this mental health setting, consisting of patients ( n = 21 ), carers ( n = 20 ), nurses ( n = 22 ) and allied health workers ( n = 18 ). Perceptions of discharge planning of these subjects were evaluated and compared using the Discharge Priorities Rating Scale. Farran, Carr & Maxson's model of goal congruence in discharge planning was used to guide this study. Significant differences were found to exist in the perceptions of discharge planning between patients, carers, nurses and allied health workers. Differences in perceptions are seen to have a detrimental effect on the discharge planning process, resu1ting in unnecessary and frequent readmission to hospital and the perpetuation of institutional dependency. Whilst the results of this study can only be applied to similar institutions, the findings are relevant for the persistently mentally ill who have patterns of frequent readmissions across the public and private mental health service settings. The results obtained indicate that nurses can facilitate effective discharge planning practices by adopting a more assertive role in the hea1th care team, in communicating patients' and their carers' concerns and promoting a more collaborative approach to care.