Supported decision-making – consumer report now available
A consultation with consumers has helped us reach a better understanding of the information they need about our service and what support is required to make their own decisions about their treatment and recovery.
Forty-nine consumers took part in six consultation sessions earlier this year. Four of these sessions targeted our priority groups, including young people, people experiencing homelessness, consumers from diverse cultural backgrounds and consumers receiving treatment in secure extended units.
Consumer consultant Daniel Van der Pluym was seconded from the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) to undertake the project.
In the sessions consumers told us about their experiences in compulsory treatment, the barriers they faced in making decisions about their treatment, and what types of information about their rights they have found helpful – and unhelpful.
We heard from them that they experienced clinical inpatient environments as often being ‘scary’ or ‘intimidating’. They experienced further difficulties in making decisions about their own treatment because of a lack of clear information, as well as sometimes cognitive difficulties caused by the medications they were on.
Consumers also told us that the power imbalance between themselves and clinical staff made it hard to express their own treatment preferences. One person commented that they felt ‘other people (are) making decisions for you – things are already determined before you have even been asked’.
Some key recommendations from the consultation are:
- for information to be timely and available in accessible formats, some suggestions were for a fold out wallet card or fridge magnet. Information needed to be in plain English and available in community languages
- online information could include audio and video, as well as the development of a free phone service with a voice recorded message
- Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) to develop a comprehensive guide to developing and using advance statements.
IMHA will now use the consultations to develop a plan to produce self-advocacy resources, and will work with Victoria Legal Aid’s Speaking from Experience group, the IMHA Reference Group, and VMIAC to get further input on what is needed.
Reviewed 22 July 2021