Appendix D

Definitions of key positions

D.L Throughout the report the Commission has referred to a number of important

Positions which it believes are necessary to ensure that people with disabilities are guaranteed their rights. These include patient advocates, rights advisers and key workers and the functions of such positions are explained in this Appendix.

Patient Advocate

D.2 The Patient Advocate should be employed by the Department of Equality and

Law reform and have total access to psychiatric hospitals and the 25 to 50 bed psychiatric units in regional general hospitals.

D.3 The Advocate would respond to requests from a patient directly (or via a

Rights Adviser) to:

  • Put a review (by the Review Body) in process;
  • Find and instruct legal advice;
  • Articulate the patient's concerns at a review hearing;
  • Represent the patient in court if necessary;
  • Arrange meetings with senior clinical and administrative personnel and support and, if necessary, articulate the patient's views.

Rights Adviser

D.4 The Rights Adviser would be employed by a psychiatric hospital or the psychiatric unit in a general hospital. He/she should consult with every patient within 48 hours of their admission and make sure that they are fully aware of their rights, e.g. To have an involuntary admission reviewed, to have access to private telephones, to see their clinical files, etc.

Key Worker

D.5 In hospital, the Key Worker would be a member of the nursing staff who would:

  • Ensure that the patient's personal needs are met, e.g. in relation to clothing, cosmetics etc.
  • Ensure that the patient's concerns are understood and appreciated by other staff at shift changes;
  • Facilitate the patient to contact and socialise with relatives and visitors;
  • Co-ordinate programmes of activities like group therapy, art therapy and neurological consultations.