Carers identified?

6.4.6 Change in clinical practice

Page last updated: 2010

Change will take time and requires:

  • Modification of structures and cultures to support changes in practice;
  • Individual and system rewards for making these changes, e.g. accreditation points for general practices, continuing education points for clinicians, successful surveys for service accreditation; and
  • Appointment of adequately remunerated and supported Carer Consultants/Liaison Officers/family support workers in all health services as equal team members to support partnership approaches to service delivery and to act as catalysts for change in practice.
It is recommended that the following good practice checklist to identify carers during all stages of care is distributed widely to public and private sector mental health services and the RACGP for feedback regarding the feasibility of introduction on a progressive basis.

Carer identification and engagement - a good practice checklist for staff


Allow carers time to make choices about:
  • Taking on the role of carer;
  • Whether to continue caring; and
  • How much and what type of care, taking into consideration family and caring commitments, health, work education, social activities Top of page


  • Throughout the service admission and discharge process and at the earliest opportunity, ensure there are triggers in place to identify carers.
  • Be aware that carers may not view themselves as carers but as partners, parents, sons, daughters, etc.


Actively seek permission from consumer to share information with the carer and provide carers with information about the following.
  • Discharge plan in writing and verbally.
  • Medical condition of consumer.
  • What is likely to be involved in caring
  • Benefits.
  • Financial implications of caring.
  • Other sources of help and other organisations, such as Carers Australia and self help groups.
  • Access to interpreters to enable effective understanding and communication.
  • Challenging decisions and complaints procedures.


Involve carers in assessments, including those carried out by allied mental health professionals' and community nurses. Top of page

Planning for future service delivery

  • Ensure carers feel fully involved at all stages of service delivery including the decision to discharge the person and making sure practical arrangements are in place
  • View carers as partners, respect and listen to their views – longer term carers are likely to have considerable expertise and skill in how to care for the consumer
  • Acknowledge carers' individual needs, consider cultural differences, age, race, disability, health, religious background, sexual orientation, gender assumptions, geography
  • Ensure carers have been involved in drawing up, monitoring and reviewing policy and its implementation
  • Develop different types of consultation procedures


  • Be flexible: provide services that carers want, when they want them
  • Ensure practical help is in place prior to discharge
  • Offer information on how to care safely: e.g. administering medications, dealing with difficult behaviour
  • Improve co–ordination between health and Centrelink and other government agencies to ensure carers receive a seamless service
  • Refer carers to support groups Top of page


Find out whether carers' outcomes were met by the service delivery process.

Methods of carrying this out could include:
  • Carer satisfaction surveys;
  • Audits of discharge documentation provided to carers;
  • Carer outcome measures; and
  • Review policies regularly in consultation with carer consultants, Carers Australia, ARAFMI etc.