Advances in Mental Health, Vol 12, No 1 (2013)

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Operationalising Recovery-oriented services: The challenges for carers

Catherine Hungerford, Fiona Richardson


Purpose: Although Recovery-oriented services are promoted in the mental health strategies of governments across the Western world, the operationalisation of these services has met with many challenges.  This paper identifies these challenges from the point of view of spousal or family carers of people with chronic and severe mental illness.

Method: A descriptive single-case embedded study was used to evaluate the implementation of Recovery-oriented mental health services into a public health services organisation located in a major urban centre in south-eastern Australia.  The unit of analysis considered in this paper is the experience of carers with the Recovery-oriented services.

Findings: Seven of the ten carers who were interviewed had not heard of Recovery or the implementation of Recovery-oriented services.  Nine out of the ten carers had noticed no recent improvements in the way services were delivered.  Instead, most carers observed a trend to shift the responsibility for overseeing the consumer’s treatment and care from health professionals to carers.  The carers went on to describe the limited support and training they receive to undertake their role; and the effects of health professionals with-holding the information required by carers to provide effective care.

            Carers also identified solutions to the service issues identified, including the development of a designated clinical role, in which a health professional would be available to work with family/spousal carers who are supporting consumers on their Recovery-journey.

Conclusion: Inherent to the implementation of Recovery-oriented services is collaboration and partnerships between all key stakeholders, including carers. It is important that mental health services focus on strengthening this aspect of service delivery to address ongoing issues with the operationalisation of Recovery-oriented services.

Advances in Mental Health

ISSN 1837-4905
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