Anne Barbara spoke about the SA Health system, from her perspective working as a Carer Consultant.  When things aren’t going the way we think they need to go, it can be a harrowing experience.  Anne shared some ideas about what to do and who to talk to. 

 

Below are our notes, based on her talk:

 

Where carers can get help in South Australia’s public health system:

  • Carer Consultants: There are 5 or 6 carer consultants.  Each is based in a public hospital.  Ask the staff to give you the contact details of their Carer Consultant. 
    The role of the Carer Consultant is to provide support and information (from lived experience) through the public mental health maze.  Carer Consultants can advocate for you.  
  • Advocacy Services can assist with advocacy and complaints, except that there is a long waiting list.  Phone 7122 6030 to speak with the Disability Advocacy and Complaints Service of South Australia.
  • Community Visitor Scheme: Independent advocacy for people receiving inpatient and community care. 7425 7802 or toll free 1800 606 302

 

Carers have rights.  If something doesn’t feel right, challenge it.  You can even challenge a doctor, if they chose to discharge your person and you don’t think it is safe.  If you need to stand your ground, you might say something like this: “This is about my daughter’s safety and her ability to stay alive”

 

Tips:

  • Carer Consultants are available while in hospital, but not after discharge.  It might be a good idea to connect with them at admission time instead of waiting until discharge, when there can be time pressure and sometimes panic or stress 
  • If you are talking with a young registrar or intern, you can ask them for a meeting with the Consultant Psychiatrist
  • If you are having a dispute or being pressured, try to take someone with you (a friend or another carer)

 

Complaints:

  • You can complain through the Consumer or Patient Advisor at your health care service
    (eg for CALHN, the Consumer Advisor phone is 7074 1377)
  • If that is not satisfactory, you can escalate to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner https://www.hcscc.sa.gov.au/

 

Several members shared their stories of system breakdown, which were sobering and harrowing.  As a group, we were moved.  Several members volunteered to help.  One member volunteered to record the stories, so they would then be captured in writing and not lost.  Others began thinking about how the stories could be used. Some wondered whether Sanctuary members might be able to support eachother more if they could contact eachother easily. 

 

Some helpful web pages:

 

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros from Pexels

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