The majority of mental health services are delivered in a community setting by mental health professionals, GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists in both public and private settings. Each contact potentially provides an opportunity for discussion with consumers at a time when they are not acutely ill to identify who provides support to them and to seek permission for these people to be actively involved in future care.
This discussion needs to involve consumers, carers, case managers and clinicians including private psychiatrists. The majority of people with an ongoing mental illness know they need to have varying levels of support at different stages of their illness. This should be recorded in the notes and updated on a regular basis. This is particularly important when the caring role has been taken on by children.
The development of Relapse Prevention Plans, Advance Directives for Care and Ulysses Agreements are formal processes that could be used to specifically identify carers. It is acknowledged that mental Health Legislation can over–ride these Plans/Directives/Agreements during any future acute episodes of the illness however it is hoped they will have increasing influence on the nature of the care provided.
22.214.171.124 Suggested national protocols for identification of carers in continuing care settingsIt is recommended that the following protocols to identify carers in continuing care specialist mental health settings are distributed widely to public and private sector services for feedback regarding the feasibility of introduction on a progressive basis.
- Relapse prevention plans to emphasise the benefits of information sharing and support and contain a specific component for identification of carers. Carers also need to give permission for their names and contact numbers to be included in the Plan.
- Encourage the identification of carers in the development of Advanced Directives.
- Ensure the development of Ulysses Agreements in situations where children are carers.