Description of roles



Overview

The Act endorses the value of involving significant people in a consumer's life as part of contemporary recovery oriented care. In this context clinicians now have specific obligations to consult and inform carers and the nominated person at key points during a patient's compulsory assessment and treatment. Clinicians also have an important role of informing consumers of the roles that can be played by their carers and a nominated person during compulsory treatment. If requested by the consumer, you may be involved in assisting the consumer to identify and appoint a nominated person. This includes being an 'authorised witness' (as defined within s.3 of the Act) who can witness the written appointment of a nominated person.

These roles are critical to the implementation of the new provisions within a recovery framework.

Nurses chatting around a table

The Nominated Person role

The nominated person is a new role established within the Act that has not previously operated within the Victorian mental health system.

Within the terms of the Act, the role of a nominated person is to:

  • (a) provide the patient with support and to help represent the interests of the patient; and
  • (b) receive information about the patient in accordance with this Act; and
  • (c) be one of the persons who must be consulted in accordance with this Act about the patient's treatment; and
  • (d) assist the patient to exercise any right that the patient has under this Act.

The carer role

Unlike the nominated person, the concept of carer is a more generally understood and accepted role within current mental health care that is most often performed by a family member. However the new Act involves specific obligations to consult with and inform carers.

The following terms have specific meanings under The Act.

Care means the provision of ongoing support, assistance or personal care to another person.

Carer means a person, including a person under the age of 18 years, who provides care to another person with whom he or she is in a care relationship.

A person is in a care relationship if he or she provides another person, or receives from another person, care because one of the persons in the relationship;

  • (a) has a disability; or
  • (b) is older; or
  • (c) has a mental illness; or
  • (d) has an ongoing medical condition (including a terminal or chronic illness or dementia)

The authorised psychiatrist has the same obligations as they do to the nominated person, to have regard to the views of the carer and to inform the carer at key points during a patient’s compulsory assessment and treatment. However, in determining whether to seek the views of the carer or to inform them about treatment decisions or orders, the authorised psychiatrist has to be satisfied that these actions will directly affect the carer and the care relationship.