Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New National Guidelines for Supporting Mental Health Family Caregivers ...

Hi everyone! My apologies for this late post but I've had a weird virus resulting in a splitting headache, sore throat and laryngitis. You  don't realize how much you use your voice until you can't use it! But I digress ...

I have some good news to share with you this morning - the Mental Health Commission of Canada has just published National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses. If followed, this document could make a significant difference to all family caregivers working to support adult loved ones with mental health issues.

The guidelines seek to recognize and support family caregivers' needs and to provide evidence-based best practices and advice to policy makers and service providers. They also include recommendations that are intended to help caregivers maintain their personal wellbeing.

Here is a summary of the general recommendations:

Integrating Family Support into Mental Health Services - General

1.  At each contact with the mental health system, require service providers to assess the needs of family caregivers and encourage them to become appropriately engaged in their relative's care.
2.  Provide family caregivers with timely access to appropriate education that responds to their needs at different stages in the illness and caregiving trajectories.
3.  Make evidence-based family psycho-education programs and encourage them to participate.
4.  Expand access to family caregiver associations available in all communities and ensure that they receive funding that reflects their role as a key source of support for family caregivers.  
 5.  Make access to evidence-based family therapy from certified and regulated clinicians when needed.
6.  Require service providers to include family caregivers in treatment planning where appropriate.
7.  Assist family caregivers by routinely using validated instruments to identify and assess their needs and help them to develop self-care plans based on the assessment.
8.  At the time of initial diagnosis by a mental health service provider, provide timely information relevant to each stage of the mental illness to caregivers and include information about the illness trajectory, evidence-based treatment options, privacy laws, services available and guidance on supporting recovery. Emphasize self-care for caregivers.
9.  Require mental health inpatient and outpatient services to improve the provision of information about the availability of psycho-education programs and encourage family members to participate in these programs.
10.  Develop information and tools for family caregivers on personal and financial planning. Encourage families to engage in this kind of planning as early as possible and provide them with support to do so at various points of service such as family caregiver organizations and notary offices.
11.  Develop dedicated family coordinator role, within or outside the hospital system, to plan, develop and coordinate family support services where possible and build the capacity of mental health services to recognize and meet family caregivers' needs 

If you're interested in reading the partnership and public awareness guidelines as well, you can find them here.

No comments: