Carers identified?

Communicating with staff - a checklist

Page last updated: 2010

As a carer, you should be provided with information to help you. The following checklist provides prompts that may be beneficial to you in seeking information.

Ask if you can be provided with general verbal and written information about:

  • The mental illness and diagnosis.
  • What sorts of behaviours you might expect and how to handle them.
  • Medication - alternatives, benefits and possible side effects.
  • Services that might be available locally for your family member/friend.
  • Services that might be available locally to assist you as their carer - government, private and community services.
  • Local and national support groups.
In order for you to feel comfortable in talking about your concerns you need to ask if you can have:
  • Ongoing opportunities to ask questions and discuss concerns.
  • The opportunity to meet with staff on your own.
  • Assurances that the information you discuss with staff will be kept confidential.
  • Assurances that you are a valued member of the care team.
  • Practical and emotional support.
  • An assessment of your own needs to help you in your role as a carer.
Have you been given help to understand:
  • The rights and responsibilities of people who have a mental illness, you, as their carers, and mental health staff who work in this service.
  • Any restrictions on sharing information requested by the person with the mental illness.
  • What the treatment plan involves and aims to achieve.
  • What a crisis plan might involve. It is a good idea to ask for this in writing.
  • What a recovery plan might involve.
  • The roles of each staff member involved in care of your family member or friend. Top of page
Have you made sure that you have communicated to mental health staff:
  • Any information regarding your family member/friend that may be relevant such as changes in behaviour, use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Information that that may influence the choice of medication or treatment, such as allergies.
  • Information regarding benefits or side effects of medication or treatment previously prescribed.
  • Any problems you have in caring for your family member/friend such as them being unwilling to take medication, or to get up in the morning.
  • If you need help in solving problems or handling specific situations.
Remember, communication is a two way process.

People with mental illness have the right to refuse to have personal information shared with carers however this does not over-ride your right to present your views and experience to staff and to receive general information about the person you provide care for.