Improving Mental Health Act rights advice communications and practices
Under the provincial Mental Health Act, patients involuntarily hospitalized for a mental disorder must be informed of their rights upon admission. But in a 2011 survey of short-stay mental health patients, 43 percent of respondents said they were not explained their rights in an understandable way. Qualitative research by Iva Cheung suggests this gap may be due to inconsistent rights-advice practices and an ineffective communication tool.
Clinicians use a statutory form to give rights advice to involuntary patients, but user testing of this form with people with lived experience has uncovered weaknesses in the document, from the patient’s perspective, as a communication tool.
With this award, the research team aims to apply evidence from that user testing to create a new suite of rights-advice communication tools and a training program for clinicians to implement these tools. Two patient partners on the team will co-create the communications, which will be user tested with people with lived experience, to make them as clear and useful to patients as possible. The team’s research user co-lead, an experienced resource nurse with a mentorship role and access to 11 psychiatric units, will contribute her knowledge of rights-advice practices and clinical workflows to ensure that the tools will be practical to use in hospital settings. The legal expert on the team will review the tools for legal accuracy.
The research user co-lead will champion this research in her workplace and help develop an interactive training program for clinicians who give rights advice. This training will
- Introduce the new communication tools.
- Emphasize the importance and potential therapeutic benefits of rights advice.
- Refresh clinicians’ knowledge of salient parts of the Mental Health Act.
- Support clinicians in establishing strategies for implementing rights advice in practice.
- Patients will know they have Mental Health Act rights.
- Patients will better understand their rights and how to exercise them.
- Clinicians will improve their knowledge about the Mental Health Act.
- Clinicians will gain strategies for implementing rights advice in their workflow.
The activities of this team, with a balance of researcher, clinician, and patient representation, align well with integrated knowledge translation best practices and with the health authority’s priority of providing patient-centred care.