Rethink Mental Illness and Adelphi Research UK have released a new report on making the Mental Health Act more person-centred and fit for the future.
In February, the Care Quality Commission found that some patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act continue to experience care that does not fully protect their rights or ensure their wellbeing.
The research from Rethink Mental Illness and Adelphi Research UK looked at limitations in the way care is delivered for people detained under the Mental Health Act and offers suggestions for changes to the legislation and best practice. It was designed to answer three questions:
- What are the current approaches to decision-making and involvement of service users and their carers from detention to discharge?
- What are the current limitations or frustrations with the way the Act is executed including awareness of Advance Decisions and the Nearest Relative provision?
- How might the care under the Mental Health Act be improved through changes to legislation and practice?
The research process involved 24 participants: eight people who had previously been detained, three carers and 13 healthcare professionals including psychiatrists, community and hospital based mental health nurses, social workers and Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs).
The research highlighted a number of key areas that should be considered in making the Mental Health Act more person-centred and fit for the future, ensuring the rights of people detained under the Mental Health Act are protected and that overall care is improved.
- Greater overall involvement of service users in their care via mandatory access to IMHAs within 48 hours of admission (currently, service users have a right to access advocacy, but not within set timeframes).
- The standardisation of information provided to include more information on rights to tribunals and appeals, along with details of medicines and potential side effects.
- A change to legislation on the appointment of the Nearest Relative, to give service users the right to choose their own representative.
- Inclusion of Advance Decisions as a routine component within the care pathway and legislative changes that give legal weight to Advance Decisions.
As the sample was relatively small, the researchers suggest that the findings are indicative rather than representative and recommend further validation ahead of implementation.
With the Government having set up an independent review of the Mental Health Act, Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness says in the Foreword to the report, 'This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform this vital legislation, and to make a vast difference in the lives of people who rely on the Act when they are at their most vulnerable.'
No Voice, No Choice? Making the Mental Health Act More Person-Centred is available on Rethink Mental Illness' website.