Rosa contacted our office with concerns about her daughter Sophia’s recent discharge from an acute inpatient unit.
Rosa explained that she felt Sophia had been discharged without enough planning or support. Rosa said that she felt the service hadn't adequately communicated with her about Sophia leaving the unit and that even though she spoke with the service about her concerns, Sophia’s discharge had gone ahead.
Not long after being discharged, Sophia was readmitted as an inpatient for further treatment.
At the time Rosa had contacted us, both Rosa and the service manager agreed that Sophia was very unwell and wouldn't be able to provide her consent to the complaint. We determined that there were special circumstances for us to accept the complaint without Sophia’s consent, and that doing so would not be detrimental to her wellbeing.
After speaking with our resolutions officer, the service manager offered to meet with Rosa to discuss her concerns and how to improve communication in future.
Rosa said that while she appreciated the genuine efforts of service staff to resolve her complaint, she was still concerned about the need for improved discharge planning processes at the service.
We assessed the service’s response, identified areas for improvement, and made a formal recommendation that the service review their discharge planning processes.
We asked Rosa if Sophia would now be able to take part in the complaint. Rosa said she was comfortable with us discussing the complaint with Sophia, as she had recently been discharged from hospital.
Sophia agreed to the complaint going ahead, and shared her views on how things could improve.
In response to our recommendation, the service agreed to review their processes, and identified a number of projects that they had initiated to improve discharge planning, including reviewing their clinical practice guidelines with input from carers and consumers and piloting a new discharge procedure with the support of peer workers.
As a result of Rosa’s complaint and other complaints made to our office raising similar concerns, we identified systemic issues in approaches to discharge planning. We discussed these issues and the need for improved guidance for services on discharge planning with the Chief Psychiatrist.
We have since made a formal recommendation to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for the issues identified in complaints to be considered in the Chief Psychiatrist’s review of the guidelines for discharge planning for mental health services in Victoria.
Learn more about positive responses to complaints in the Promoting service and system improvement section of our annual report (pp. 41-46).
Please note: We have changed the people's names and omitted some details to protect the identity of all those involved.