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  • Access - The ability of people to obtain required or available services when needed within an appropriate time.
  • Accreditation - In this document refers to academic course accreditation which ensures that the education and training leading to registration as a health practitioner is rigorous and prepares graduates to practice a health profession safely. The accreditation authority may be a committee of a national board, or a separate organisation (AHPRA 2012).
  • Advance care plan - Describes a person’s future preferences for medical treatment in anticipation of a time when they are unable to express those preferences because of illness or injury. They are most commonly used in situations towards the end of life; however, they are increasingly being used in the mental health area as a means to enable supported decision making and greater respect for people’s preferences in relation to mental health treatment and care.
  • Appropriate care - Intervention or action provided is relevant to the person’s needs and is based on established standards.
  • Care plan - A written statement that states the nursing and other interventions to be undertaken, the health outcomes to be achieved and the review of care that will occur at regular intervals. See also Individual plan.
  • Carer - A person who has a caring role for a person with a mental health problem or mental illness. They could be family, a friend or staff and be paid or unpaid. The role of the carer is not necessarily static or permanent, and may vary over time according to the needs of the person and carer.
  • Community - How the community is defined depends on the purpose, structure and type of service. The community may be determined by a target population, such as people and/or clinicians who access the service or, in the case of public services, a defined catchment area.
  • Competency - An observable quality of a health professional, integrating multiple components such as knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. Since competencies are observable, they can be measured and assessed to ensure acquisition by a professional. Competencies can be assembled like building blocks to facilitate progressive development (National Health Workforce Planning & Research Collaboration 2011).
  • Confidentiality - Restricting access to personal information to authorised people, entities and processes at authorised times and in an authorised manner.
  • Consent - An agreement based on an understanding of the implications of a particular activity or decision and the likely consequences for the person.
  • Consumer - A person who uses or has used a mental health service. Top of page
  • Disability - A concept of several dimensions relating to an impairment in body structure or function, a limitation in activities (such as mobility and communication), a restriction in participation (involvement in life situations such as work, social interaction and education), and the affected person’s physical and social environment.
  • Diversity - A broad concept that includes age, personal and corporate background, education, function and personality. Includes lifestyle, gender identity, sexuality, sexual identity, ethnicity and status within the general community.
  • Evaluation - Judging the value of something by gathering valid information about it in a systematic way and by making a comparison. The purpose of evaluation is to help the user of the evaluation to decide what to do, or to contribute to scientific knowledge.
  • Exit - When the person no longer requires treatment, support or any other service from the mental health service, and there has been a last review of the case with peers and the case is closed. Exit is prepared for in a collaborative manner with the person. This may be referred to as discharge in some services.
  • Individual plan - It is a written summary of a person’s goals and strategies. The plan may vary in length, depending on the types of needs and the time it may take for these needs to be met.
  • Incident - An event or circumstance that led to, or could have led to, unintended and/or unnecessary harm to a person, and/or a complaint, loss or damage.
  • Informed consent - Consent obtained freely, without coercion, threats or improper inducements, after questions asked by the person have been answered, after appropriate disclosure to the person, adequate and understandable information in a form and language demonstrably understood by the person.
    Such answers and disclosures must be sufficient to enable the person to make a fully informed decision based on all relevant factors including the nature of treatment involved, the range of other options and the possible outcomes and implications, risks and benefits for the person and others.
    In the context of mental health, this means that the person provides permission for a specific treatment to occur based on their understanding of the nature of the procedure, the risks involved, the consequences of withholding permission and their knowledge of available alternative treatments.
  • Integration - According to the needs of people, continuity of care is maintained over time and across different levels of services.
  • Interdisciplinary team - Care or a service given with input from more than one discipline or profession.
  • Intervention - An activity or set of activities aimed at modifying a process, course of action or sequence of events, to change one or several of their characteristics such as performance or expected outcome.
  • Involuntary Treatment - Refers to a person being treated for their illness without their consent, in two ways, either in hospital or in the community. This may occur when mental health problems or disorders result in symptoms and behaviours that lead to a person's rights being taken away or restricted for a period of time. Top of page
  • Legislation - The body of laws made by Parliament. These laws consist of Acts of Parliament and Regulations, Ordinances and/or Rules, which are also called subordinate or delegated legislation.
  • Mental health - Mental health refers to the capacity of individuals and groups to interact with one another in ways that promote subjective wellbeing, optimal development and the use of mental abilities (cognitive, affective and relational), and the achievement of individual and collective goals consistent with the law.
  • Mental health problems - A disruption in the interaction between the individual, the group and the environment, producing a diminished state of mental health.
  • Mental health professional - A person who offers services for the purpose of improving an individual’s mental health or to treat mental illness. These professionals include (but are not limited to) psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, occupational therapists and psychiatric nurses. See also Practitioner(s).
  • Mental health promotion - Action to maximise mental health and wellbeing among populations and individuals. Mental health promotion is concerned with promoting wellbeing across entire population groups for people who are currently well, for those at risk, and for those experiencing illness.
  • Mental health services - Refers to services in which the primary function is specifically to provide clinical treatment, rehabilitation or community support targeted towards people affected by mental illness or psychiatric disability, and/or their families and carers. Mental health services are provided by organisations operating in both the government and non-government sectors, where such organisations may exclusively focus their efforts on mental health service provision or provide such activities as part of a broader range of health or human services.
  • Monitor - To check, observe critically, measure or record the progress of an activity, action or system on a regular basis to identify change.
  • Non-government mental health sector - Private, not-for-profit, community-managed organisations that provide community support services for people affected by mental illness and their families and carers. Non-government organisations may promote self-help and provide support and advocacy services for people who have a mental health problem or a mental illness, and their carers, or have a psychosocial rehabilitation role. Psychosocial rehabilitation and support services provided by non-government community agencies include housing support, day programs, pre-vocational training, residential services and respite care.
  • Outcome - A measurable change in the health of an individual, or group of people or population, that is attributable to interventions or services. Top of page
  • People - The term ‘People’ refers to anyone who is currently using, or has previously used, a mental health service and includes people who have accessed general health services for a mental health problem. For the purposes of this statement, this term includes those with emerging or established mental illness for which they have not yet sought treatment, or for whom treatment has not yet been provided.
  • Personal and health-related information - Any information or an opinion about a person whose identity is apparent or can reasonably be ascertained from the information or opinion. Personal information can include a person’s name, date of birth, address, telephone number, family members or any other information that could allow the person to be identified.
    Health-related information includes symptoms or observations about the person’s: health; prescriptions; billing details; pathology or other test results; dental records; Medicare or health insurance numbers; admission and discharge details; genetic information; and any other sensitive information about things such as race, sexuality or religion when it’s collected by a health service. In the context of these standards, personal and health related information, where it can lead to the identity of the person, is considered in the same way.
  • Practice - Any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a practitioner in their regulated health profession. Practice is not restricted to providing direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with patients or clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of health services in the health profession (AHPRA 2012).
  • Practitioner(s) - A practitioner is someone who engages in an occupation, profession, religion, or way of life. In the context of this document practitioner(s) include (but are not limited to) psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, occupational therapists and psychiatric nurses. See also Mental health professional.
  • Prevention - Interventions that occur before the initial onset of a disorder.
  • Professional boundaries - Professional boundaries in nursing and midwifery are defined as 'limits which protect the space between the professional's power and the client's vulnerability' (Peterson 1992).
  • Quality improvement - Ongoing response to quality assessment data about a service in ways that improve the process by which services are provided to people.
  • Recovery - A deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of psychiatric disability. See also discussion in this document on page 8.
  • Recovery-oriented mental health practice - Refers to the application of sets of capabilities that support people to recognise and take responsibility for their own recovery and wellbeing and to define their goals, wishes and aspirations (Commonwealth of Australia 2012 ).
  • Rights - Something that can be claimed as justly, fairly, legally or morally one’s own. The term can also refer to a formal description of the services that people can expect and demand from an organisation.
  • Risk - The chance of something happening that will have a (negative) impact. It is measured in terms of consequence and likelihood.
  • Risk assessment - The process of identifying, analysing and evaluating a risk. Top of page
  • Safety - Freedom from hazard.
  • Seclusion The act of confining a patient in a room when it is not within their control to leave. It should not be confused with the practice of time out, where a patient is requested to seek voluntary social isolation for a minimum period of time.
  • Self-determination - The right of all people to ‘freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development’ (article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). Self-determination is a collective right (belonging to a 'people' as a group) rather than an individual right.
  • Service provider - A person, usually with professional qualifications, who receives remuneration for providing services to people who have a mental health problem and/or mental illness.
  • Services - Products of the organisation delivered to people or units of the organisation that deliver products to people.
  • Social inclusion - Contemporary concepts of disadvantage often refer to social exclusion. Social inclusion refers to policies that result in the reversal of circumstances or habits that lead to social exclusion. Indicators of social inclusion are that all Australians are able to: secure a job; access services; connect with family, friends, work, personal interests and local community; deal with personal crisis; and have their voices heard.
  • Social and emotional wellbeing - An holistic Aboriginal definition of health that includes: mental health; emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing; and issues impacting specifically on wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities such as grief, suicide/self-harm, loss and trauma.
  • Stakeholder - Individuals, organisations or groups that have an interest or share in services.
  • Standard - Degree of excellence etc. required for a particular purpose; measure to which others conform or by which the accuracy or quality of others is judged (Oxford n.d.).
  • Support services - Direct services and interventions provided for a person with a mental health problem and/or mental illness and associated disability aimed at reducing handicap and promoting community tenure, for example, assistance with cooking and cleaning. Support services do not necessarily have a treatment or rehabilitation focus.
  • Transition of care - A set of actions designed to ensure coordination and continuity of care as patients transfer between services. Transitions of care occur in real time, during weekends and overnight, and are usually short lived and often involve clinicians that do not have an ongoing relationship with the patient. They occur when a patient is leaving a health service, or being transferred to a different institution or level of care, and generally consist of one or more clinical handovers. The process ends only when the patient is received into the next clinical setting. Transition of care is heavily involved in the processes of admission, referral and discharge and is considered a unique and distinguished process from any other healthcare setting (ACSQHC 2012).
  • Treatment - Specific physical, psychological and social interventions provided by health professionals aimed at reducing impairment and disability and/or the maintenance of current level of functioning. Top of page
  • Values - Principles and beliefs that guide an organisation and may involve social or ethical issues.
  • Wellbeing - The state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief or economic and social condition.