Did you know the YES survey now incorporates concerns for your physical health? The national Your Experience of Service (YES) questionnaire was developed primarily for use in public specialised mental health services, as a way of measuring mental health consumer and carer experiences of services. The YES questionnaire comprises 26 multiple choice and two free text questions about a mental health consumer’s perceptions of their treatment and the care they received. The YES question, ‘Overall, how would you rate your experience of care with this service in the last 3 months?’ provides a rating of overall experience of care. Other questions use scales to indicate how often the service did a range of things during their care (1—Never, 2—Rarely, 3—Sometimes, 4—Usually, 5— Always), or how well the service performed during their care (1—Poor, 2—Fair, 3—Good, 4—Very Good, 5—Excellent). Other examples include ‘You felt welcome at this service’, ‘Staff showed hopefulness for your future’, and ‘Your opinions about the involvement of family or friends in your care were respected’, ‘Explanation of your rights and responsibilities’, ‘Access to peer support’, and ‘The effect the service had on your overall well-being’. Gaining consumer perspectives on how people experienced mental health services has been a long-term goal of the National Mental Health Strategy.
YES aims to help Australian mental health services and consumers work together to build better services. Currently New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have implemented the YES questionnaire, and national reporting of the data is a key action under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. YES is part of a nationally developed suite of Consumer and Carer experience measures which now includes the Mental Health Carer Experience Survey (MHCES) and Community Managed Organisations YES (CMO-YES). A project is currently looking at a Primary Health Networks (PHNs) version. All Australian States and Territories are working towards implementing these measures. Across the jurisdictions who currently offer YES, different approaches to offering the questionnaire are used. New South Wales has adopted a “continuous” delivery method, where people are offered the YES during every hospital stay or community episode of care. Feedback from YES is provided regularly to services to support action and change initiatives. By contrast, Victoria and Queensland have adopted a “snapshot” approach where people are encouraged to complete YES in a particular week or month of the year. In 2016–17, this resulted in 26,380 consumer-rated experience of service surveys were collected across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. New South Wales had the largest number of returned surveys (20,864) followed by Queensland (3,458) and Victoria (2,058). More information on the returned surveys can be found on the AIHW website. In New South Wales, six additional questions were added to the YES questionnaire. These ask consumers if the service advised them about; healthy eating and diet, smoking, alcohol and drug use, sexual health, exercise and physical activity and possible physical side effects of some medications. These questions were based on the Healthy Active Lives (HeAL) declaration and provide insight into the types of information that people are being provided about physical health while receiving mental health care. While results for individual services may differ, generally across New South Wales most people recall receiving information about diet and exercise. People are less likely to recall information on smoking and sexual health. In some cases, services may provide information but if it is not provided at the right time or in the right way for that individual then it may not be remembered. For more information about these findings and the experience of consumers in NSW please refer to the 2017-18 Your Experience of Service: What Consumers Say about NSW Mental Health Services report.
A measure of carer experiences has also been developed. The Mental Health Carer Experience Survey (MHCES) aims to measure the experiences of carers, such as family members, partners or friends of people who access mental health services. New South Wales and Queensland implemented this survey in 2018 and Victoria plan to introduce the measure mid-late 2019. The YES questionnaire and MHCES survey show moves in the right direction for people affected by mental illness. The YES instrument is being made available by the Department for use by appropriate organisations – you can apply here. To assist consumers to provide feedback, an electronic version of the Your Experience of Service is currently being developed.