Between April 2017 and January 2018, MHCTas received funding through Mind Australia to participate in a unique project that will result in positive change: not only for family, friends and carers, but also for those who work in providing mental health services. In fact the whole community can benefit from the project.
A number of peak organisations worked with Mind Australia to produce:
‘A Practical Guide for Working with Carers of People with a Mental Illness’, with the intention of helping services to explore, measure and improve how they perform against six Partnership Standards. These are:
- Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact, or as soon as possible thereafter.
- Staff are carer aware and trained in carer engagement strategies.
- Policy and practice protocols regarding confidentiality and sharing of information are in place.
- Defined staff positions are allocated for carers in all service settings.
- A carer introduction to the service and staff is available, with a relevant range of information across the care settings.
- A range of carer support services is available.
MHCTas partnered with headspace Hobart to trial the Guide, and employed two part-time project officers to work closely with management and staff of this busy service for young people with mild to moderate mental ill health. The project officers were welcomed and supported by headspace Hobart, where management was already proactively aware of and committed to working together with the Board, young people and staff towards carer inclusiveness. The implementation of the Guide provided a logical and comprehensive blueprint that resulted in positive changes to the organisation’s culture as well as improved systems around how all staff interact with carers, family and friends.
Marianne Potma and Rachel Sylvester – MHCTas Project Officers
Trying to work out how your health service works with families and friends is daunting. You know that all staff have great intentions of including family and friends in a family friendly way – but it’s not until you start asking them “what does that look like”, that you get a real feel for what is going on.
As headspace Hobart Centre Manager, I jumped at the opportunity to work in partnership with Mental Health Carers Tasmania to become a demonstration site for the A Practical Guide for Working with Carers of People with a Mental Illness (the Guide). Having an evidence-based guide with the support from Mental Health Carers Tasmania gave me confidence, and the resources, to focus on this extremely important area.
After completing a self-assessment, all staff were invited to regular meetings to look how we worked as a service against the Guide’s six standards. The demonstration project highlighted the need for a common understanding of terminology and ongoing training priorities in this space, as well as defining what information a carer can and can’t have access to if their young person does not give consent to share their personal information.
By participating in this project, management and staff have a clearer understanding of what headspace Hobart does well regarding family and friends, and it now has a three-year plan to keep improving in this space.
Miranda Ashby – headspace Hobart Centre Manager
Three other similar projects were funded nationally, with each producing a comprehensive report at the end of the project. Three of the four projects have been completed and the reports are available from MHCTas website: