S58: Stronger Together: Empowering Families & Carers

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By September 28, 2023 No Comments

Authors: Caroline Walters, Amaya Alvarez, Caroline Lambert, Melissa Petrakis, Aarthi Pathmanandavel, Kristie Mcdonald, Jennifer Babb, Helen Searle, Pamela Griffiths, Kat Evans, Bec Hunt, Celia Karpfen, Leanne Galpin & Ruth Thompson

Year: 2023

Event: 2023 The MHS conference - Adelaide

Subject: Stronger Together: Empowering Families & Carers

Type of resource: Video

Presentation 1: Action needed for Family Carer Citizenship Rights in Mental Health System Responses.
Authors: Caroline Walters, Amaya Alvarez, Caroline Lambert and Melissa Petrakis
Internationally, the dominant experiences of families, carers, and supporters within mental health systems are confusion, exclusion and distress. Systems provide inadequate support for consumers and instead rely on informal supports of families to fill gaps in service measures. Familial support is largely provided by women and detrimental to their own participation in social and civic life. New study findings indicated the process of engaging/interacting with mental health systems, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, led to increased contravention of the human and citizenship rights of family supporters and carers.
Evidence gained in a co-designed Australian National study, demonstrated adverse impacts on the participation and access to employment, education, and community connection experienced by families. These violations risk families experiencing poverty, homelessness, social exclusion and emotional distress.
Attendees at this presentation will hear evidence from families of their experiences of rights violations and recommendations to mitigate. It is hoped a deeper understanding will enable early systemic responses, especially during periods when communities are under threat and in greater need, to uphold the rights of family and consumers.
Learning Objective
Attendees will gain an understanding of how family human and citizenship rights are violated and the systemic measures that can support their attainment.

Presentation 2: Coral Tree Family Service: addressing the right to safety for children and their families.
Authors: Aarthi Pathmanandavel & Kristie Mcdonald
The Australian Human Rights Commission identifies safety as a human right. In mental health interventions, the safety of the individual is thoughtfully considered, with a clear assessment of risk from themselves, from others, and to ensure that the treatment provided does not cause undue harm to the person. Consideration of safety is especially important when providing mental health intervention to children. However, the safety of their families and those around them is equally important. Coral Tree Family Service is a state-wide service that works with families of referred children (three to 12 years). The whole household attend a planned, four-night Residential Stay at the service. During that Stay, the family are supported by clinicians to bring changes in the family unit, with almost three-quarters of the families that attend Coral Tree setting a goal for addressing the risk to safety posed by aggression. The presentation is designed to share the rationale, intervention, and experience of working with families to prioritise safety for everyone, and to advocate for this to be a standard part of intervention for the families of children in this age range.
Learning Objective
1) To position the impact of aggression on the safety of others in families as centrally important in providing an intervention to the families of children between three and 12 years.
2) Increased safety in families can have significant impact on a child’s mental health, functioning, and trajectory in life.
1) The Australian Human Rights Commission. We all have a right to feel safe and respected. https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/we-all-have-right-feel-safe-and-respected
2) Calvete, E., Orue, I., Fernandez-Gonzalez, L., Chang, R., & Little, T. D. (2019). Longitudinal trajectories of child-to-parent violence through adolescence. Journal of Family Violence, 35, 107-116.

Presentation 3: Co-designing a state-wide public women’s mental health service, a public private consortium with multiple stakeholders.
Authors: Jennifer Babb & Helen Searle
The Statewide Women’s Mental Health Service (SWMHS) is an innovative response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommendation of targeted acute mental health service expansion, established through a public-private partnership by Alfred Health, Ramsay Health Care, and Goulburn Valley Health. SWMHS aims to provide a statewide trauma- and violence-informed service for women, or those who identify as women, who present with severe mental illness and trauma.
The SWMHS will comprise of 30 beds at the Ramsay Clinic Albert Road Hub (24 inpatient beds and 6 Hospital in the Home beds) and 5 beds in the Shepparton spoke (2 inpatient beds and 3 hospital substitution beds). The Ramsay Clinic Albert Road Hub inpatient beds will be further divided into three streams: General Mental Health (14 beds inclusive of 4 Intensive Care beds), Perinatal (5 beds), and Eating Disorders (5 beds).
A two-phase service design process using co-design principles occurred. 131 individuals with lived experience participated in the consultation, and the process had oversight and feedback from peak organisations including Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA), Tandem, Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC), Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV) and Women’s Health Victoria.
The core elements consisted of multiple workshops with six streams:
1. General mental health
2. Perinatal mental health
3. Eating disorders
4. Aboriginal stream
5. Multicultural stream
A Final Report with a Summary of Recommendations was compiled and these have been incorporated in the model of care and physical design of the inpatient unit wherever possible.
Learning Objective
How a Victorian public mental health service co-designed processes can be used within the design and implementation for a statewide service with multiple stakeholders and partners in regional and metropolitan locations. First public private partnership as state based service, required commitment to all stakeholders and those with lived experience
Barr et al (2023): ‘Towards a Gendered Understanding of Women’s Experiences of Mental Health and The Mental Health System’. Women’s Health Victoria Issues Paper Issue 17 pp 2-35

Presentation 4: Just The Mother.
Author: Pamela Griffiths
Pamela's presentation offers a rare insight into the challenges and sadness, joy and inspiration that has come with caring for her eldest son Tom, who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Tom is an artist who has exhibited in Sydney, Melbourne, Fremantle and Perth. As well as supporting Pamela’s need to tell her story, he has offered some of his images to colour this presentation.
The story covers Pamela’s experiences which, although not a definitive statement on how it is for all mental health carers, presents her raw reality. It also offers a guide to those who are around the unwell person and have no idea how to be useful.
As well as telling her story, Pamela offers leaders in the Mental Health Services Sector. a list of truths she wishes she had known earlier. Learning Objective
It is a message of hope to carers and those around them who have no idea how to be supportive. I will talk about my experiences negotiating with him for self-care, my attempts to advocate on his behalf to services and outline what I wish I had known earlier.
No academic references

Presentation 5: Developing a carer welcome kit for Youth Mental Health community sites.
Authors: Kat Evans, Bec Hunt, Celia Karpfen, Leanne Galpin & Ruth Thompson
Results from the Carer Experience Survey (CES), a nationally validated survey exploring the experiences of carers for people with mental health challenges demonstrated that 143 carers attending Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) felt that information sharing could be improved. As a result, a working group consisting of lived experience staff, consumer advocates and clinical staff developed a Welcome Kit for carers accessing CAMHS Community sites, to support engagement with the service at the start of the consumer journey. Given that in youth mental health, carer engagement is extremely important, steps should be taken to ensure carers receive accurate, easy to read information about their young person's service journey and are supported to engage with the service through feedback and advice.
The take home message from this oral is to speak with the carers of your service to find what they need to hear from you about their consumer's care journey, and to use this information to create easy use documents with this information in it, that can be accessed both at the start of their care journey but also along the journey continuum.
Learning Objective
1. Creating easy to use information kits for carers will help carers to be able to engage with the service, and in turn, their consumers to engage with the service.
2. Carers are often significant in their consumer's mental health care journey, and engaging with them to build understanding helps support the consumer as well.

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