Implementation guidelines for non-government community services

What the guide contains

Page last updated: 2010

This implementation guide has been developed to help non-government providers of community mental health services across Australia to understand the National Standards for Mental Health Services (national standards) and to assist them in implementing them.

It has three sections:

Section 1 (Introduction) is the introduction. It provides an overview to the history of standards for mental health service delivery in Australia, and the development of the revised national standards.

The section contains the principles of recovery oriented mental health practice and the principles that underpin the national standards.

It briefly examines the application of the national standards in the non-government community mental health service sector context and explains why the national standards are important for people with mental illness, their carers and families, the sector and the whole of the service system. It discusses the relationship between the national standards and service accreditation. It includes discussion of how meeting the national standards can be more than a compliance obligation, and that they can help in developing a quality assurance framework appropriate to the size, complexity and service types of an organisation.

Section 2 (Working to the guidelines) discusses each standard and its associated criteria from the perspective of the non-government community mental health sector. The national standards and their associated criteria are designed for the whole of the mental health service system; however, for the non-government community mental health sector, some of the criteria may not apply and others may apply to only some service types.

Section 2 identifies the criteria associated with each standard, and explains whether they are applicable to all or only parts of the sector. It provides guidance about the intent of each standard, suggestions for evidence that might be used to demonstrate compliance and examples of practices and policies that will support compliance.

Most of the national standards and their associated criteria are linked to others. The final part of Section 2 provides a cross referencing table to assist service providers to identify the links and avoid duplication in the development of evidence and policies and procedures.

Section 3 (Implementation tools) addresses the practical issues of implementation - who needs to be involved, what must be done and how it might be done.

It includes some practical suggestions on how to conduct a baseline assessment of current status against the national standards. Tools are provided to assist service providers to assess their current practices against the national standards and review progress during implementation. The use of these tools is not obligatory.

Section 3 also discusses how the initial assessment can identify opportunities for service improvement and be the basis for an ongoing commitment to, and development of, a culture of continuous quality in service management and delivery. This can involve boards, staff, consumers, carers, service delivery partners and funding bodies.

Note: These guidelines do not relate to publicly funded specialist community mental health services.