The vast majority of forensic mental health services staff thought that the most common method for patients to be in contact with their relatives/carers was by telephone, followed by visits. Sixty nine per cent of respondents highlighted contact via letter and through CPA and other meetings. Over half highlighted contact occurring when the person was on leave from hospital. Very few respondents believed patients and carers to be in contact via electronic communications such as email or Skype. A few identified contact occurring due to the person and his/her carer living in the same household, by way of text messages, participating in Behavioural Family Therapy (BFT), or attending carers support groups as ways of remaining in contact.
We also asked whether or not those carers who were in contact with their relatives were routinely invited to CPA meetings, and all but one independent hospital (96% of respondents) reported that this was the case. However, this did mean that corresponding estimates of carers actually involved in CPA meetings was similarly high. In fact, this could be as little as 10% to as high as 99% of carers involved in CPA meetings, with an average of around 53% believed to participate in such meetings. Both independent hospitals estimated that only a quarter of carers were involved in CPA reviews compared to 56% in NHS units. Interestingly, different low secure, rehabilitation wards and IPCU respondents were amongst both the low and high estimations, whilst most community forensic teams, including those working with people with learning disabilities, and private units tended towards low numbers of carers involved in CPA meetings.
Table 3: Services’ average % estimate of carers involved in CPA meetings showing ranges (number and %) for comparison