There are rules and standards that guide how mental health care is provided in hospitals. These rules are made by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
The rules and standards cover a wide range of areas related to mental health care in hospitals including:
- The rights of patients and their families or carers.
- The assessment, treatment, and care of patients
- Ensuring professionals have the proper qualifications and training
- The use of seclusion and restraint is regulated
- Ensuring patients, families, and carers are offered information and support
- The management of medication and other treatments
- Measures are taken to prevent self-harm and suicide
- The transition of patients from hospital to community care.
Carers, Families and Significant Others
It is important to note that carers, family, and significant others have the right to be included in care, treatment decision-making process for their loved ones. These rights are explained further in the different mental health acts and Carers Recognition Acts which can be found here.
Lived Experience Support
Many hospitals employ qualified staff members who have either personal experience of mental conditions or are carers of a person who has experienced a mental health condition. These lived experience staff help to empower the person receiving treatment (consumer) and carers by informing them of their rights and encouraging them to voice any concerns to the treating team. The lived experience staff can also advocate and support consumers/carers at meetings if required.
Depending on where a person lives in Australia, these workers may have different titles, such as Consumer Consultant, Carer Consultant, Consumer Companion, Carer Advisor, or Peer Worker. This service is usually only available during the hospital admission. However, the lived experience staff have extensive knowledge of the local services and supports available to assist after discharge in helping towards recovery for the consumers/carers.
Lived experience workers are able to inform consumers and carers of their rights, support them to find their voice and speak up for themselves and their rights, and advocate on their behalf.
Community Treatment Orders
Consumers are sometimes placed on a Community Treatment Order, as it is deemed necessary for their mental wellbeing. This order can be challenged by the consumer by applying to the Tribunal in their state/territory and consumers can access free legal representation to assist with this process.
The following video looks at a persons options when they do not agree with their treatment order. Please note that some of the information in this video may differ based on the State or Territory in which you live.
When receiving treatment in a hospital, it’s important to remember that the consumer and the carer have rights.
Sometimes it is deemed appropriate for a person to be placed under a community treatment order to ensure their wellbeing. This order can be challenged by the person receiving treatment by applying to the Tribunal in their state or territory. A person receiving mental health treatment under a treatment order may also be able to access free legal representation to assist in this process.
If you’re interested in learning more about hospital admissions, the Hospital Admission and Acute Care page can provide valuable information. It explains what typically happens during an admission, including both voluntary and involuntary admission processes. Additionally, if a person is unsatisfied with the treatment they received, the page also provides guidance on how to make a complaint.
By becoming familiar with a person’s rights and understanding the hospital admission process, the person can ensure that they or their loved ones receive the appropriate care and support during their hospital stay.