MHCC introduces more oversight for seclusion and restraint

The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) has announced a move towards additional oversight on the use of seclusion and restraint in public mental health settings.

Tuesday 28 June 2022 3:58am

This move is part of the MHCC’s work to expand the collection and use of information captured through complaints about seclusion and restraint, in response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. The Royal Commission recommended an end to the use of restrictive practices within 10 years.

The improvements have been developed in consultation with stakeholders and services and will lead to the routine collection of more detailed information about the use of seclusion and restraint. This will help uncover any themes or systemic practices that can be improved, with the aim of ensuring services always use the least restrictive option.

“While we are pleased to see that many services have either minimised or are working to reduce seclusion and restraint, there is still significant work to be done, which this new process will support,” said Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, Treasure Jennings.

“Numbers alone don’t provide all the answers, but they do raise questions which this Commission and the future Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission must help answer if we want to realise the vision laid out by the Royal Commission,” said Treasure Jennings.

Fifty-one complaints about seclusion and restraint have been made to the MHCC this financial year, each providing an opportunity for the consumer or carer to be heard, and for the service to acknowledge and explain the actions taken and apologise for the experience if appropriate. When a complaint is made to the MHCC, it considers whether issues of rights, safety, risk and quality are present which can warrant a detailed review or investigation in some cases.

The new approach will streamline the MHCC’s assessment of whether the requirements of the Mental Health Act and the Chief Psychiatrist’s guidelines have been met when restraint and seclusion are used. This includes the legislative requirements for use of restrictive interventions, and expectations outlined in the Chief Psychiatrist’s guidelines, including providing trauma-informed care and support to the consumer.

“We want to see a public mental health system based on self-determination and designed by those with lived experience. The MHCC exists to ensure the voice of consumers and carers is heard and we are very focused on how we can drive cultural change as well as safeguard human rights,” said Treasure Jennings.

The new process will ensure a more rigorous assessment of complaints by services, enable more in-depth analysis by the MHCC about the use of restrictive interventions and strengthen the MHCC’s role in safeguarding the human rights of consumers. This comes as the MHCC also looks to increase its data collection and analysis practices in readiness to support the wider scope of the new Commission.

In addition to this new process, the MHCC also makes recommendations to services as a result of complaints on a range of issues. Last year, the MHCC made 80 recommendations to services as a result of complaints. The most common service improvements related to communication between services and the consumers and carers who rely on them.

Some complaints lead to direct action with a service entering into an enforceable undertaking with the MHCC where they agree to implement service improvements as a result of the outcome. To date, services have complied with these commitments.

You can make a complaint to the MHCC onlineExternal Link or by calling 1800 246 054

Reviewed 28 June 2022

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