Department Of Human Services, Victoria, Australia
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Standards for Psychiatric Disability Support Services

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Victoria has a strong tradition of psychiatric disability support service provision by the non-Government sector. Crucial to the development of this service sector has been the commitment of individuals, groups and organisations to advocating for the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities and enabling improvement in opportunities and conditions for people with psychiatric disabilities living in the community.

Psychiatric disability support service provision is a specialist function. Services are underpinned by a commitment to the principles of psycho-social rehabilitation and a philosophy of providing programs for people with psychiatric disabilities which are not available to them through generic community services.

Psychiatric disability support services involve the provision of assistance to service users to regain or develop skills they may require to actively participate in daily living, in personal and social interactions and to facilitate service users' increased participation in community life and activities. Psychiatric disability support services also seek to address the environmental factors which can have a negative impact on people with a psychiatric disability living in the community.

The Victorian Government has a commitment to strengthening and supporting the PDSS sector in recognition of its success in promoting integration and supporting the significant non-clinical needs of people with a mental illness and their carers.

The Psychiatric Disability Support Standards

Service standards and quality assurance programs within health services are an essential part of achieving high quality health care. On 3 December 1996 the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council's National Mental Health Working Group endorsed the National Standards for Mental Health Services. The development of these Standards was guided by the principles contained in the Australian Health Ministers' Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and the United Nations Principles on the Protection of People with a Mental Illness. The standards provided a guide for the development of new services and steered service enhancement and continuous quality improvement in existing services.

The National Standards for Mental Health Services were predominantly designed for clinical services and were not seen as entirely relevant to the psychiatric disability support services sector. It was, therefore, undertaken to tailor the National Standards for Mental Health Services to better reflect the particular focus of that sector.

The Standards for Psychiatric Disability Support Services have been adapted from the endorsed National Standards for Mental Health Services to reflect the specialist function of psychiatric disability support services in facilitating and supporting the integration of people with psychiatric disabilities into their local community and its programs. This process occurred through extensive consultation between VICSERV, the Psychiatric Disability Support Sector and staff in the Mental Health Branch, and the results of this consultation are the standards contained in this document. These standards complement the Commonwealth Disability Service Standards.

The 11 standards for psychiatric disability support services relate to key aspects of psychiatric disability support service provision and build on existing human rights and equal opportunity principles. They are also informed by legislation relating to freedom of information, privacy and occupational health and safety and by professional codes of conduct.

The standards are consistent with the framework of the Second National Mental Health Plan. Consequently the three priority areas of the plan-promotion and prevention, partnerships in service reform and delivery, and quality and effectiveness-inform the operation and guiding principles of the standards.

The standards relate broadly to universal human rights issues, organisational structure and the provision of care. Standards one to seven address universal issues and focus on upholding the rights, safety, dignity, privacy and confidentiality of people with psychiatric disabilities and ensuring that participants, community and carers are involved in the planning, and evaluation of the PDSS. They also promote community acceptance of people with a disability. Standards in this section focus on the importance of the PDSS working with the local community in prevention and mental health promotion, and taking account of issues in relation to gender and social and cultural values in the provision of assistance and support.

Standards eight to ten relate to the organisational structure of psychiatric disability services, and their integration and coordination with other parts of the mental health service sector at a local, state and national level.

Standard 11 is divided into six parts and details the principles guiding the delivery of care on a continuum from access to the disability support service through to discharge. Standard 11.4 describes the different types of rehabilitation and support available to the participants.

The PDSS standards are outcome focussed and seek to achieve the best possible support and rehabilitation for people with psychiatric disabilities.

The standards are cross-referenced for ease of access. While the standards are aimed at all PDSS and, wherever possible, they should be used as a whole rather than separately, some standards will be more relevant to particular PDSS. The standards should be used for the purposes of planning and services should aim to move towards meeting each of the criteria. In some cases, for example in rural areas or in smaller services it may not be possible or appropriate to fully implement all standards. Nonetheless, the standards should be used to enhance service delivery, quality improvement and to establish models of best practice. They can also inform participants and carers about what to expect from PDSS.

The Standards for Psychiatric Disability Support Services is a recognition of the importance of the specialist function of this service sector and will promote best practice service provision and better outcomes for participants and carers.


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Updated 18 January 2001

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