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
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
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.
Updated 18 January 2001
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