The Power Tools

How do I use the Tools?

There is no right or wrong way to use these tools.

With some of them you can just tick the boxes and give it to a member of staff. Other tools are more for your information and to help you work out your rights or what you would like to happen.

Use them all to get your views across and to be your own advocate.

What’s going on – your right to know

Getting your views across is much easier if you know what is going on.

The Mental Health Commission has a Code of Practice covering admission, transfer and discharge from hospital. It says that you should be provided with various information on admission to hospital such as information on your rights while in hospital and information on the care and treatment you can expect to receive. Staff should check that you understand your rights.

The law also says that you must be given information about the unit you are admitted to such as mealtimes, visiting times and how they will look after your possessions. You must also be told about your illness, any medications given and any advocacy services available to you.

You have a right to have things written down as well as explained to you by someone. Having things written down is useful because it will help you to remember what has been said.

Some questions will not be simple ones for staff to answer and you may have to wait a little while. Nonetheless you have a right to have an answer while the question is current for you.

What if your request is misunderstood or not answered?

Try to be patient and assertive, and explain the issue again (see the section on assertiveness). If this doesn’t work then you could ask to talk to another member of staff about it or ask for someone else to follow it up for you (they would be advocating for you).

If you don’t feel that things are getting sorted, you may want to think about making a formal complaint (Power Tool 9).

I’ve got some information from the booklet and other people – now what?

Advocating for yourself is easier if you understand the information you have been given. If you are able to show other people that you know what you are talking about then you have a better chance of being understood by them and of influencing decisions made about you.

Questions you could ask yourself and your care team about the information you are given:

• What does this information mean to me?

• Do I understand this?
If not, then who could explain it to me some more?

• What impact does it have on my care and treatment:
- Now?
- And for my future?

• Does it raise new questions for me?

• How can I best get these new questions answered?