Carers and families are recognised in national service standards
Health services in Australia are required to be accredited against a number of national standards. This means health services are required to demonstrate they meet set standards; that is, they measure up. The standards set out similar expectations in key areas including: rights; participation and inclusion; service access; service safety and quality; and feedback and complaints.
The National Mental Health Service Standards
National Mental Health Service Standards – As well as upholding the rights of consumers, these standards recognise the role played by carers, as well as their capacity, needs and requirements as separate from those of consumers is recognised. The Standards view participation by consumers and carers is integral to the development, planning, delivery and evaluation of mental health services.
Standard 7 is specifically for carers – “The mental health service recognises, respects, values and supports the importance of carers to the wellbeing, treatment, and recovery of people with a mental illness.”
17 criteria are specified for meeting this standard.
7.1 The MHS has clear policies and service delivery protocols to enable staff to effectively identify carers as soon as possible in all episodes of care, and this is recorded and prominently displayed within the consumer’s health record.
7.2 The MHS implements and maintains ongoing engagement with carers as partners in the delivery of care as soon as possible in all episodes of care.
7.3 In circumstances where a consumer refuses to nominate their carer(s), the MHS reviews this status at regular intervals during the episode of care in accordance with Commonwealth and state / territory jurisdictional and legislative requirements.
7.4 The MHS provides carers with a written statement, together with a verbal explanation of their rights and responsibilities in a way that is understandable to them as soon as possible after engaging with the MHS.
7.5 The MHS considers the needs of carers in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) persons, religious / spiritual beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, physical and intellectual disability, age profile and socio-economic status.
7.6 The MHS considers the special needs of children and aged persons as carers and makes appropriate arrangements for their support.
7.7 The MHS has documented policies and procedures for clinical practice in accordance with Commonwealth, state / territory privacy legislation and guidelines that address the issue of sharing confidential information with carers.
7.8 The MHS ensures information regarding identified carers is accurately recorded in the consumer’s health record and reviewed on a regular basis.
7.9 The MHS provides carers with non-personal information about the consumer’s mental health condition, treatment, ongoing care and if applicable, rehabilitation.
7.10 The MHS actively seeks information from carers in relation to the consumer’s condition during assessment, treatment and ongoing care and records that information in the consumer’s health record.
7.11 The MHS actively encourages routine identification of carers in the development of relapse prevention plans.
7.12 The MHS engages carers in discharge planning involving crisis management and continuing care prior to discharge from all episodes of care.
7.13 The MHS provides information about and facilitates access to services that maximise the wellbeing of carers.
7.14 The MHS actively seeks participation of carers in the policy development, planning, delivery and evaluation of services to optimise outcomes for consumers.
7.15 The MHS provides ongoing training and support to carers who participate in representational and advocacy roles.
7.16 The MHS provides training to staff to develop skills and competencies for working with carers.
7.17 The MHS has documented policies and procedures for working with carers.
The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards
The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards – provide a nationally consistent statement of the level of care consumers and carers can expect from health service organisations. Standard Two requires health services to partner with patients, consumers, carers and families.
The National Standards for Disability Services
The National Standards for Disability Services – help to promote and drive a nationally consistent approach to improving the quality of services. They focus on rights and outcomes for people with disability.
There are six National Standards that apply to disability service providers.
- Rights: The service promotes individual rights to freedom of expression, self- determination and decision-making and actively prevents abuse, harm, neglect and violence.
- Participation and Inclusion: The service works with individuals and families, friends and carers to promote opportunities for meaningful participation and active inclusion in society.
- Individual Outcomes: Services and supports are assessed, planned, delivered and reviewed to build on individual strengths and enable individuals to reach their goals.
- Feedback and Complaints: Regular feedback is sought and used to inform individual and organisation-wide service reviews and improvement.
- Service Access: The service manages access, commencement and leaving a service in a transparent, fair, equal and responsive way.
- Service Management: The service has effective and accountable service management and leadership to maximise outcomes for individuals.
The Disability Standards emphasise the important role of families, friends and carers in the safeguarding of rights and supporting good outcomes for consumers.
The Disability Standards also emphasise the importance of services supporting active decision-making and individual choice including the timely provision of information in appropriate formats to support individuals, families, friends and carers to make informed decisions and understand their rights and responsibilities.
Ask Cam, The Carer Navigator
Can service standards help me anyway? Most definitely. Knowing the standards that services are required to meet, empowers both consumers and carers to understand what they should expect when they access services. Service standards provide a measuring stick against which carers can assess their experiences. They are official benchmarks that carers can use when discussing their expectations with services.