The support needs of carers of people with psychosis or schizophrenia should be routinely assessed by mental health services and care plans reviewed annually, according to fresh guidelines issued by the national institute for health and care excellence (Nice).
Professionals should also advise carers about their statutory right to a social services assessment and explain how to access this, the newly updated Nice guideline for managing schizophrenia and psychosis states.
The guideline outlines the responsibility of different services for the monitoring of the physical health needs of people with psychosis or schizophrenia who have been in hospital. The secondary care team should monitor physical health and medication for at least the first 12 months after hospital discharge. After that time GPs and primary care teams should routinely monitor physical health support needs, at least annually. Care coordinators and psychiatrists should receive a copy of the assessments, the guideline recommends.
Paul Jenkins, chief executive of charity Rethink mental illness, said it was important that services “finally have clarity” on responsibility for monitoring physical health care needs.
“But while it’s important to have this clarified in theory, we need to see the guidelines put into practice. At the moment, fewer than 30% of people with schizophrenia receive basic physical health checks, and this urgently has to change,” said Jenkins.
Other updates to the schizophrenia guideline include a recommendation that services should consider peer support for people with psychosis and schizophrenia and offer them supported employment programmes or other educational activities.
Professor Mark Baker, director of Nice’s centre for clinical practice, Nice, said: “There is considerable fear and stigma linked to psychosis and schizophrenia. The first few years after onset can be very upsetting and chaotic. Over a lifetime, about 1 in 100 people will develop schizophrenia, some people will recover completely from their symptoms; others will improve but may become ill again.
“This guideline sets out how best to treat and manage people with schizophrenia, from the first episode through to management of further acute episodes and longer term care.”