Value For Money: Employing Carers In Mental Health Services

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By May 14, 2015 No Comments

Authors: Ward, L, Bourke, C, Douglas, M,

Year: 2002

Event: 2002 TheMHS Conference

Subject: book of proceedings COPES Program (Carers Offering Peers Early Support), Innovations in Consumer & Carer Approaches to MHS Delivery

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: Since August 1999, carers have been employed at our Service as Peer Supports and Consultants through COPES. This paper will illustrate that whilst there are costs involved in this work it is generally thought that benefits largely outweigh the costs.

The Costs:
Carers who use the COPES program may have their comfort zone challenged.
Consumers may potentially feel threatened or excluded.
The System is required to pay for a previously free service and Staff's preconceived ideas about carers are challenged.
The Carers as Workers experience an impact on the relationship with their family member, particularly where the consumer views the system as adversarial. The emotional nature of the work can resonate with past and present issues, and the privacy of the family can potentially be compromised.

The Benefits:
For the Carer, these include empowerment, reducing isolation and being heard.
For Consumers, there are the flow-on benefit of carer well-being including improving family understanding and communication.
For the System and Staff, COPES educates staff regarding the issues families face when their loved one is ill. As one consultant psychiatrist said, 'COPES helps keep us honest'.

For the COPES workers, benefits include recognition through payment, and gaining respect as an individual and as a carer-worker.

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