Care and support guide

Care Programme Approach

The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is a way that services are assessed, planned, co-ordinated and reviewed for someone with mental health problems or a range of related complex needs.

You might be offered CPA support if you:

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

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. You should also be able to get an assessment of your care and support needs from your local authority to look at your social care needs.

How the CPA can help you

If you need CPA support, you should be involved in the assessment of your needs and in the development of the plan to meet those needs.

You’ll be told about your different choices for care and support services. As a result of the CPA, you should get a formal written care plan that outlines any risks – including details of what should happen in an emergency or crisis.

You will have a CPA care co-ordinator (usually a nurse, social worker or occupational therapist) to manage your care plan, and you’ll be given their name and contact details.

The care co-ordinator will make sure that the CPA care plan is reviewed regularly. A formal review is made at least once a year, and this will look at your circumstances, including whether CPA support is still needed.

If you aren't eligible for CPA help

If you don't meet the criteria for CPA support, you should still expect assessment of your needs, care planning and reviews of care plans to proceed as normal. These assessments and reviews should also consider whether you should be transferred to CPA support if your needs or condition changes.

More information on the CPA

The mental health charity Rethink has produced a factsheet providing further information about the Care Programme Approach (PDF, 493kb).

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015

Next review due: 15/01/2017

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