Authors: Katrina Armstrong, Debbie Childs, Maxine Griffiths
Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Implementing carer inclusive practice which underpins the approach taken in the Practical Guide for Working with Carers of People with a Mental Illness builds inclusion and resilience of carers with flow-through benefits to their families, friends and wider community.
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Maxine Griffiths AM is CEO of Mental Health Carers Tasmania. Her career as CEO across the not for profit community sector includes Lifeline Tas, Council on the Ageing Tas and Volunteering Tasmania. Maxine has a long history in advocacy and lobbying for and with families and people living with a disability which has concluded in being awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her work.
Debbie Childs is CEO of HelpingMinds, a West Australian based Mental Health and Carer Support organisation. With experience as a mental health carer Debbie is a passionate advocate determined to find innovative ways to break down barriers of discrimination around mental ill health for our future generations.
Katrina Armstrong joined MHCA in 2019 following a thirty-year career in the NSW Government delivering disability services and leading on policy and funding reform projects. Katrina also led the establishment of the NDIS Local Area Coordination program at St Vincent de Paul Society NSW. Katrina is interested in how people can be better supported to have meaningful engagement in social and economic life.
Implementing carer inclusive practice which underpins the approach taken in the Practical Guide for Working with Carers of People with a Mental Illness builds inclusion and resilience of carers with flow through benefits to their families, friends and wider community.
Listening to carers about their needs in supporting someone with a mental illness, we are told time and time again that carer inclusive practice is an integral component of carer well-being. Resilient carers that are acknowledged and respected by health providers are better equipped to continue their caring role with flow on impacts to their wider community as they are more likely to engage or re-engage in social and economic life. In 2015 the Practical Guide for Working with Carers of People with a Mental Illness (the Guide) was released, which aimed to promote carer inclusive practice across the mental health sector.
The concept of the Triangle of Care model and carer inclusive practice is also well established across the broader disability sector. In his paper ‘the Natural Authority of Families” Dr Michael Kendrick states that families regularly find themselves having to confront professionals, bureaucrats and others in roles of authority, which can result in an imbalance of power and authority. Dr Kendrick argues that the community accepts the natural primacy of families and that they have the authority to be highly engaged in decision-making processes because they have greater responsibility for the well-being of their family members.
In 2017-18 demonstration projects were conducted across Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania to test approaches to the implementation of the Guide. Each project was evaluated to obtain critical feedback from mental health service providers and carers to inform a national roll-out strategy.
In our presentation, HelpingMinds and Mental Health Carers Tasmania will provide an overview of their demonstration projects and how they contributed to inclusive carer practice that recognises their natural authority in the person’s life. We will also explore how carer inclusive practice builds resilient families and carers, which provides positive impacts across their wider communities.
Learning Objective 1: Mental health practitioners and service providers will understand the critical importance of carer inclusive practice as a way of building carer engagement, resilience and hope
Learning Objective 2: Carers often feel marginalised in the decision making processes that occur across the mental health sector. This paper aims to provoke discussion about the natural role and authority of families and carers in the decision-making process and how the implementation of the Practical Guide to Working with Carers of People with a Mental Illness can build carer inclusive practice, improve outcomes for carers and consumers with flow-on positive benefits to their extended networks and communities
Kendrick, M 1996, The Natural Authority of Families, 1p
A practical guide for working with carers of people with mental illness, March 2016, Mind Australia, Helping Minds, Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (Australia), Mental Health Carers Arafmi Australia and Mental Health Australia.