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Mental health

Care Programme Approach

Anyone experiencing mental health problems is entitled to an assessment of their needs with a mental healthcare professional, and to have a care plan that's regularly reviewed by that professional. They should also be able to get a community care assessment from their local authority to look at their social care needs.

If someone you care for has their mental health needs assessed, the assessment should identify you as their carer. You should be told about your own right to assessment and support. If the person you care for gives their consent, you should be kept up-to-date and involved in their care plan reviews.

If you care for someone who has severe mental health problems, or a range of different needs, their care may be co-ordinated under a Care Programme Approach (CPA). This is a particular way of assessing, planning and reviewing someone's mental health care needs.

Someone might get CPA support if they: 

  • are diagnosed as having a severe mental disorder
  • are at risk of suicide, self harm, or harm to others
  • tend to neglect themselves and don't take treatment regularly
  • are vulnerable. This could be for various reasons, such as physical or emotional abuse, financial difficulties because of their mental illness or cognitive impairment
  • have misused drugs or alcohol
  • have learning disabilities
  • rely significantly on the support of a carer, or have their own caring responsibilities
  • have recently been detained under the Mental Health Act
  • have parenting responsibilities
  • have a history of violence or self-harm

What CPA should provide

It's recommended that the person who needs CPA support is involved in the assessment of their own needs and in the development of the plan to meet those needs. The person should be informed about their different choices for care and support available to them, and they should be treated with dignity and respect.

There should be a formal written care plan that outlines any risks and includes details of what should happen in an emergency or crisis.

A CPA care co-ordinator should be appointed to co-ordinate the assessment and planning process. The co-ordinator is usually a nurse, social worker or occupational therapist. You and the person you're looking after will be given their name and contact details.

The care co-ordinator should also make sure that the care plan is reviewed regularly. A formal review is made at least once a year. The review will consider whether CPA support is still needed.

It's recommended that the person who needs CPA support is involved in the assessment of their own needs and in the development of the plan to meet those needs. The person should be informed about the different choices for care and support available to them, and they should be treated with dignity and respect.

People with mental health problems who aren't eligible for CPA

People who don't meet the criteria for CPA support won't be assigned a CPA co-ordinator. However, they should still expect assessment of their needs, care planning and reviews of care plans where appropriate. The review should also consider whether they should be transferred to CPA support.

Rethink has produced a factsheet outlining what to do if you aren't eligible for the Care Programme Approach (PDF, 526kb).

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

myexperience said on 06 December 2012

I have found that our GP had no knowledge of continuity of care, CPA or Carer assessment and gave no information as to where/when it should be requested or might be applicable. It was too late when we finally found out about it. Unfortunately my complaint was ignored by the GP and then rejected by the Ombudsman since they did not appear to understand the significance of leaving illness untreated and unsupported.

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Page last reviewed: 19/08/2013

Next review due: 19/08/2015

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