GuidelinesThe intent of this Standard is to ensure that access to mental health services is reasonable and equitable.
Identified needs (Criterion 10.2.1)The MHS needs to pay particular attention to the diversity of its consumers including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) persons, religious and spiritual beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, physical and intellectual disability, age, legal status and socio-economic status.
Further information on culture and diversity is available in the guidelines of Standard 4 Diversity responsiveness.
Access should be regularly monitored to ensure that it is timely, equitable and meets the identified needs of its community. The monitoring process includes seeking feedback from consumers, carers and the community regarding access to the MHS.
Data on waiting times to access the MHS should be analysed and strategies should be developed and implemented to reduce the number of consumers on the waiting list.
The MHS can provide evidence of facilitating access to services through such means as:
- formal links with relevant community groups and other service providers
- use of appropriately trained interpreters or cultural brokers
- staff orientation and ongoing training that includes training about the access process and relevant cultural considerations
- liaison services
- use of technology to improve access (such as Telehealth which provides online medical services).
Provision of information on access (Criterion 10.2.2)The process of access should be made known to consumers, carers, relevant stakeholders, other agencies and service providers. There should be a documented procedure for disseminating information on the access process to consumers, carers and other service providers.
The MHS should provide information on access to services through prominently displayed posters, brochures and video or multimedia. This information should also be available through the website or via email, fax or post on request. In Indigenous settings this information should be culturally informed and appropriately written for the target population.
After-hours care (Criterion 10.2.3)Information should be available about how consumers can access after-hours care.
Evidence of efforts to provide after-hours emergency contact information for consumers includes:
- an information pamphlet with after-hours emergency contact numbers and location of after-hours mental health services in a format that is understandable to consumers and carers
- information on availability of tele-psychiatry or an after-hours telemedicine service provided by a mental health nurse for remote locations
- national or state telephone-based services capable of providing culturally appropriate advice.
Physical access (Criterion 10.2.4)The MHS should have clear signage, disabled access and sufficient waiting areas.
Service settings in Indigenous communities should be designed with an understanding of local cultural expectations.
The MHS should facilitate access to transport where necessary, taking into account the capacity of the service and consumer needs.
The MHS transport assistance policy and procedure should outline options for accessing assistance based on individual consumer needs and risks.
Suggested evidenceEvidence that may be provided for this standard includes:
- consumer survey results
- information sheets, brochures or posters
- clear signage, accessible physical entry points
- consideration of cultural factors in the built, clinical environment
- data on waiting times
- use of technology, such as multimedia information kiosks and telehealth services
- evidence of provision of after-hours emergency contact information for consumers
- Policies and procedures covering:
- after-hours access
- transport assistance
- dissemination of information on access to the service.