Carers identified?

6.4.3 Formal admission to a service

Page last updated: 2010

The paperwork associated with the formal admission of a person with a mental illness to a public or private mental health service also provides an opportunity for identification of carers.

The use of colour coded forms requesting permission from the consumer to identify carers could be sought via a structured set of questions. This form needs to be regularly updated and form an integral part of each admission, or re–admission procedure.

It is important to note that it may not be possible to complete this component immediately upon admission. In fact, it may be desirable to complete the form later once the consumer has had a chance to develop a relationship with staff.

Completion and review of this form should be an ongoing process that is used as the basis of discussion between all parties. The form should highlight the benefits of involvement of a wider range of people in the care and support of the consumer and seek to clarify the level of involvement that the consumer feels comfortable with each person having. These levels may change over time.

Consumers should be encouraged to inform nursing staff if they would like to change any of this information during their admission. This form should remain in the case notes and be up-dated on every admission. An audit process is considered crucial to changing practice over time.

Services should be mandated to provide the following information to carers at the admission stage.

  • Welcome message, we are here to help, outline of the processes to be followed, including options for a follow up call from a designated person within the service to answer immediate concerns.
  • Confidentiality – explanation of legislative requirements and re–assurance regarding options if the consumer is currently refusing in-depth involvement.
  • Information to assist with diagnosis and development of a treatment plan.
  • Contact numbers for the hospital and ward.
  • Legislative status of the consumer – what this means.
  • Rights and responsibilities of carers.
  • Complaints process.
  • Referral options to appropriate support services to assist them to understand their role.
At this stage the information provided should be specific to the individual needs of the consumer and his/her family or other carers. It should be practically based with clear guidelines for the ongoing management of the mental health issues. Top of page Suggested national protocols for identification of carers during formal admission to a public or private service

It is recommended that the following protocols, to identify carers during formal admission to a specialist mental health service, are distributed widely to public and private sector services for feedback regarding the feasibility of introduction on a progressive basis.
  • Generic information encouraging self identification by carers is provided in waiting areas on electronic and paper notice boards including posters and leaflets.
  • Colour coded forms inviting consumers to identify carers and nominate the level of involvement be included in all admission procedures. Forms to be completed as soon as practicable and audited on a regular basis.
  • In circumstances where a consumer refuses to identify their carer(s), the mental health service will review this status at regular intervals during the episode of care in accordance with Australian and State/Territory jurisdictional and legislative requirements.
  • A specific member of staff to be allocated responsibility for maintaining procedures for identification of carers – a carer specialist or champion. This may be a carer consultant/liaison officer/family support worker with the following responsibilities:
    • Staff support and training;
    • Liaison point between staff, consumers and carers, e.g. assistance with completion of admission protocols regarding identification of carers; advocacy for individual carers with staff/services;
    • Information and linkage to alternative options for information and support for carers such as referral to carer support organisations;
    • Provision of carer specific perspectives to staff meetings;
    • Assistance with carer assessments; and
    • Specific point of contact following discharge for carers.
  • Ensure accreditation and reporting systems in health and community sectors incorporate the National Standards for Mental Health Services and, in particular, Standard 7 relating to the identification and participation of carers at all areas in service delivery.
  • Consumer information packs to include a rationale and encouragement for identification of carers, including the identification of children who are carers.
  • Services to report on the provision of information packs to carers.
  • Staff to receive 'carer sensitivity' and skills development training.