Becoming a Guest: On Proximity and Distance in Mental Health Home Treatment
Mental health home treatment is a service where patients with severe mental illnesses are visited by a multiprofessional psychiatric care team at their homes. In Germany, inpatient-equivalent home treatment as a specialized form of home treatment has been offered by hospitals since 2018. In its early stage, the shift of care activities out of the hospital toward the patient’s home opened up a new set of problems and blurred the existing boundaries. This ethnographic study follows two home treatment teams and provides an in-depth description of their work. The findings are presented by three themes from our data analysis: (i) closeness and familiarity; (ii) bridging the distance; and (iii) tensions of proximity and distance. We then discuss the findings with the guiding lens of Becoming a Guest, which refers to the ambiguity of proximity and distance. The contribution for computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) is twofold; on the one hand, we provide a detailed account of mental health home treatment, and on the other hand, we outline a conceptual model that helps to describe and analyze similar cases. We conclude the paper with directions for further research.