MHCC Mental Health Rights Manual

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Chapter 4 Section J: Disclosure of information under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW): the role of the Designated Carer

Normally, if information about your care and treatment is given to anyone other than you, without your clear permission, this would be a breach of confidentiality and a breach of information privacy principles. However, the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) allows for certain information to be given to a person who is your Designated Carer.

To find out more about the rights of carers please follow this link.

You can choose who you want to be your Designated Carer. If you don't choose, then a person will be considered to be your Designated Carer because of their particular relationship to you.However, you can also exclude a person from being considered a Designated Carer.

In this section you can find out about:

The amendments to the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) were assented on the 28 November 2014 by way of the Mental Health Amendment (Statutory Review) Act 2014. These changes are now in force.The Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW), has changed the term “Primary Carer” to that of “Designated Carer”. It also introduces a new category of persons called “Principal Care Provider” who are persons entitled to be informed of a range of matters about the person for whom they provide care, including about their admission, aspects of treatment and discharge. A designated carer can also be a person who is a close relative or friend who has frequent contact and interest in the care of a person with a mental health condition. The 'relative' of a person who is an Aboriginal or Torres Islander includes a person who is part of the extended family or kin of a person according to the indigenous kinship system of the person's culture.

4J.1: Appointment of a 'Designated Carer'

The Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) allows you to appoint a person as your 'Designated Carer'. Once appointed, your Designated Carer will automatically be given particular information about you, without you having to consent each time the information is provided .

You can also notify the Authorised Medical Officer of the Mental Health Facility in which you are admitted or Director of Community Treatment of the Community Mental Health Team that provides support to you in the community that you want to “exclude” a particular person from receiving information about your admission, aspects of treatment and discharge.

The Act also provides that the following people could be deemed to be your 'Designated Carer' unless you advise the Hospital or Community Team in writing otherwise:

  • Your wife, husband or de facto partner, 'if the relationship … is close and continuing'.
  • A person who is primarily responsible for providing support or care to you (other than as a paid carer).
  • A close friend or relative.

If you have a guardian, then that person will be your Designated Carer.

If you are under 14 years old your parents will be your Designated Carers. The Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) says when you are 14 you can nominate your own Designated Carer but also says if you are over 14 you will not be able to exclude your parents or legal guardians from receiving information about you until you are 18.

You can at any time change or cancel your nomination of a Designated Carer or your decision to exclude someone from being your Designated Carer. This decision by you will be effective and should be respected unless your treating doctors or Community Team think that you do not have the capacity to make this decision or that it exposes you to risk of serious harm.

Your nomination of a person as your Designation Carer only lasts 12 months so you should make sure your intentions are clear and in writing every time you are admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW). You will also need to ensure that your community case manager remains notified of the person you want to be considered your Designated Carer.

There are forms available for nominating or changing details of who is your Designated Carer. Ask a staff member at the hospital for the form.

The amendments to the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) were assented on the 28 November 2014 by way of the Mental Health Amendment (Statutory Review) Act 2014. These changes are now in force.The Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW), has changed the term “Primary Carer” to that of “Designated Carer”. It also introduces a new category of persons called “Principal Care Provider” who are persons entitled to be informed of a range of matters about the person for whom they provide care, including about their admission, aspects of treatment and discharge. The Amending Act also makes it clear that you may appoint more than one Designated Carer. A designated carer can also be a person who is a close relative or friend who has frequent contact and interest in the care of a person with a mental health condition. The 'relative' of a person who is an Aboriginal or Torres Islander includes a person who is part of the extended family or kin of a person according to the indigenous kinship system of the person's culture.

4J.2: What information can be given to your Designated Carer?

Your Designated Carer will be told:

  • if you leave the facility without permission or fail to return at the end of a period of leave;
  • if it is planned to transfer you to another mental health facility or other health facility;
  • if you are discharged from the mental health facility;
  • if you are re-classified as a voluntary patient;
  • if you are made an involuntary patient;
  • if the hospital wants to apply to the Mental Health Review Tribunal for permission to give you electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) or for a decision about whether you are capable of giving informed consent to ECT;
  • if a emergency surgical operation is performed on you without your consent under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW);
  • if the hospital or medical team wants to apply to the Director-General of NSW Health or the Mental Health Review Tribunal for consent to perform a surgical operation or special medical treatment on you.

Your Designated Carer has a right to get a list of medication you have been given as an involuntary patient and under a Community Treatment Order.

The Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) also states that the Designated Carer should be consulted about the discharge plan for your release from hospital.

If you want a particular person to be told about aspects of your care and treatment including having access to otherwise confidential information about you, then you should make sure that you nominate that person as your Designated Carer.

If you do not want a particular person or certain people told, then you should make sure that the hospital has in writing your express wishes about this, especially if that person is your spouse or partner, a carer, or someone else normally close to you.

The amendments to the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) were assented on the 28 November 2014 by way of the Mental Health Amendment (Statutory Review) Act 2014. These changes are now in force. The Mental Health Act 2007 has changed the term “Primary Carer” to that of “Designated Carer”. It also introduces a new category of persons called “Principal Care Provider” who are persons entitled to be informed of a range of matters about the person for whom they provide care, including about their admission, aspects of treatment and discharge. A designated carer can also be a person who is a close relative or friend who has frequent contact and interest in the care of a person with a mental health condition. The 'relative' of a person who is an Aboriginal or Torres Islander includes a person who is part of the extended family or kin of a person according to the indigenous kinship system of the person's culture.

 DISCLAIMER

  • The legal and other information contained in this Section is up to date to 31 August 2015
  • This Manual only refers to the law and practices applying to the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) - unless it states otherwise.
  • MHCC does not guarantee the accuracy nor is responsible for the content or the currency of the content of external documents and websites linked to this Manual.