Partners in Care? Views and Experiences of Carers from a Cohort Study of the Early Implementation of the Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003

Julie Ridley, Susan Hunter, Ann Rosengard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carers are seen as legitimate stakeholders in wider policy processes and increasingly as 'co-producers' and key providers of care. Mental health carers, however, especially those caring for relatives subject to compulsory care and treatment, often feel overlooked and marginalised, caring in complex circumstances with little or no professional support. The Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 (MHCT Act) implemented in 2005 aspired to change this for the better. This article focuses specifically on findings from seven focus groups and 10 individual interviews with 33 carers from three Health Board areas and the State Hospital in Scotland. Interviews were conducted at two stages during 2007 and 2008 as part of a wider study. Participating carers were supporting relatives who were under different compulsory measures and so had experience of new procedures under the MHCT Act. The data were gathered as part of a cohort study exploring service users', carers' and professionals' early experiences of the Act's implementation. A topic guide was used to explore the impact of compulsion on carers; the 'Named Person' role; Mental Health Tribunals; the principles underpinning the MHCT Act; and suggestions for improving the law. The study found that new provisions, in particular the Named Person role and Mental Health Tribunals, had resulted in positive change. However, many carers still felt isolated and unsupported. They remained critical of the lack of consultation and involvement at both individual and collective levels. Few were aware of their right to a carer's assessment and many were sceptical that this would make any difference. Acknowledging the study's limitations, we discuss the implications for practice in light of broader policy agendas of personalisation, recovery, recognition for carers and promotion of more community-based mental health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-482
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


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