Tools and resources

2. Ensuring effective communication between teams and with people using services, families and carers

2. Ensuring effective communication between teams and with people using services, families and carers

The guideline and legislation

The Care Act 2014 requires integration, cooperation and partnership working between local authorities and key partners (sections 3, 6, 7, 22, 23, 74 and schedule 3). Although not explicitly referenced in the act, effective communication is implicit as a keystone to successful partnership working.

Ongoing communication between teams is key to effective transition between inpatient mental health settings and community or care home settings, as is good communication with people using services, their families and carers (recommendations 1.4.1 and 1.4.2). Effective systems to enable practitioners to communicate easily and clearly are outlined in the guidance.


Communication with people experiencing a mental health crisis can be very difficult. Practitioners may feel that they are communicating clearly, but the person may be too distressed to take in and remember information (recommendation 1.3.5).

For example, in Newham, people were sometimes unaware that they had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983, even though this had been clearly explained when they were admitted to hospital. Recognising that verbal information at admission to inpatient mental health settings was not effective for everyone, the local service developed leaflets that people could read when they felt ready to absorb information.

Local learning


People should only have to tell their story once rather than repeating the same information to practitioners from different disciplines who are not communicating with each other (recommendation 1.2.8). However, communication between practitioners from different disciplines can be challenging at times, especially when they are using different IT systems. Allowing 'read-only' access to records held by partner organisations can be an effective way of improving communication.

Providing opportunities for practitioners across health and social care to come together enhances communication. Examples include shared training events and invitations to team meetings. Communities of practice also provide opportunities to improve communication and to share good practice.

A lead practitioner should coordinate the planning and management of a transition and should ensure that all professionals involved in the transition know each other's roles and responsibilities and are clear about their input, if any, to specific treatment and to planning the transition.

Bed management meetings should be held as frequently as is needed to avoid delayed transfer and should involve community and inpatient practitioners from the multidisciplinary team.

Person-centred support

Decisions about a person should not be made without their involvement ('No decisions about me, without me') or without the involvement of key members of the multidisciplinary team. Avoiding jargon when planning with a person will help to ensure that they have a good understanding of their plan.

Carers need support that is bespoke rather than generic because demands on carers will differ considerably according to the needs of the person they support. Carers will also benefit if they have access to a comprehensive directory of support.

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