In the recently released report, Committed to Change, the BC Office of the Ombudsperson detailed disturbing findings that involuntary patients aren’t consistently told about their rights under the Mental Health Act. Further, family care partners aren’t always told that their loved ones have been detained. These stories are appalling, but will enforcing better record keeping prevent these scenarios from happening?
Their care team is supposed to send Form 16 to that near relative. Form 16 tells the near relative that the person (a) has been detained and (b) has rights under the Mental Health Act. This form is supposed to be sent or given to the near relative immediately after the person has been admitted.
The BC Office of the Ombudsperson found:
Form 13 in only 49% of patient files,
Form 15 in only 43% of patient files, and
Form 16 in only 32% of patient files.
In response to these poor compliance rates, the Office of the Ombudsperson issued this recommendation:
Recommendation 9: By June 30, 2019, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions work together with the health authorities to establish clear and consistent provincial standards aimed at achieving 100 percent compliance with the involuntary admissions procedures under the Mental Health Act through the timely and appropriate completion of all required forms.
In other words, these three forms should appear in 100% of patient files. But will mandating 100% compliance solve the problem of patients and family care partners not knowing patients’ rights?
In a series of focus groups, members of our research team asked clinicians about the barriers they face when giving involuntary patients rights information. One barrier participants mentioned over and over was that many of their patients didn’t understand English.
Form 13, the document clinicians use to to tell patients about their rights, seems to be available only in English.
Translated rights materials
To help fill the gap in availability of Mental Health Act rights information in other languages, we’ve translated:
Involuntary patients over the age of 16 have the right to ask for a second medical opinion from a doctor who’s not on their treatment team. My interviews with former involuntary patients and with clinicians seem to show that both groups are confused about how this right works, so this post aims to answer some of the most common questions about it.
In response to clinician demand arising from our rights information sessions, some members of our team are working with clinical staff to develop a LearningHub module about Mental Health Act rights so that healthcare providers across BC will have access to our content.
To make sure we address clinicians’ most pressing questions about Mental Health Act rights, we’re reaching out!
Questions can be about:
the Mental Health Act rights themselves
your obligations under the Mental Health Act to give rights information
the rights-notification process
Forms 13 & 14 and other rights information tools
…or any other concerns related to Mental Health Act rights.
If you’re a nurse, social worker, physician, or other healthcare provider who works with the Mental Health Act and are wondering about any rights-related issues, please contact us with your questions by December 20, 2018.
One of the questions we get most often is “How can family and friends help involuntary patients exercise their rights?” We’ll cover that topic in more depth in a future blog post, but before we can get there, we have to lay the groundwork by clarifying what a near relative is.
The rest of this blog post speaks to patients.
Choosing a near relative
If you’re admitted as an involuntary patient (certified), a member of the staff, usually a nurse, will ask you to choose someone to be your near relative. This near relative will be informed: Continue reading “What’s a near relative?”