The doctor-patient relationship
Doctors today are focusing less on treating illness and more on promoting well-being, helping the person with schizophrenia to live well with their condition.
To achieve this, doctors and their treatment teams want their patients to become more involved and have more of a say in their treatment, which makes their relationship with the person with schizophrenia extremely important.
When a patient feels comfortable with their psychiatrist they can work together effectively. They are on the same page, working towards the same goals and there is a sense of trust in the treatment process. The fit feels right. This is a step in the right direction to getting the person you care about back on track. But to achieve this, each party needs to know the full story. The doctor needs to know your family member or friend’s goals and expectations, and the person with schizophrenia needs to know all the options that are available to them, so they can make informed decisions.
Relationships with treatment: involuntary and voluntary treatment
Voluntary treatment is treatment that you choose to have when you are able to make an informed decision. It‘s possible to seek admission to a public hospital for psychiatric treatment if the person is at risk of harming themselves or other people. Private hospitals can only treat voluntary patients.
Involuntary treatment means compulsory treatment for a mental health problem that is given under the Mental Health Act 2000. Ideally, the person you care about will opt for voluntary treatment, but this is not always possible. A person may have to have involuntary treatment if they are mentally ill, need treatment immediately, may harm themselves or other people, are too unwell to consent to treatment, and there is no other way for the person to receive the treatment they need.
The process of getting an Involuntary Treatment Order requires a recommendation in writing from a doctor and further paperwork completed by a doctor or mental health practitioner, such as a registered nurse or psychologist, a social worker or an occupational therapist employed by an approved mental health service.
After being assessed by a psychiatrist, the person with schizophrenia may be:
- discharged without treatment
- treated in hospital, or
- treated in the community, where an oral or a long-acting therapy may be prescribed.
Taking control of the future: advance care planning
As part of taking control of their health and well-being, a person with schizophrenia should consider what might happen if they become too unwell to make decisions in the future. This is where advance care planning can help.
An Advance Care Directive is a written document that provides a legal means for your family member or friend to record what kind of future health care and personal care they would prefer. This way, they have a say in their future. You should act now to help the person you care about to develop one of these directives – ask the healthcare team for more information on Advance Care Directives in your State or Territory.