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Enhancing Care: How the Newly Developed Mental Health Standards Benefit Community Managed Organisations

Australia’s healthcare system will be significantly improved as accreditation to the National Safety and Quality Mental Health Standards for Community Managed Organisations (NSQMHCMO Standards) begins on 1 July 2024. Developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), these new standards aim to enhance the safety and quality of mental health services provided by community organisations. This initiative will promote consistent, high-quality care across the sector, strengthening the overall mental health framework in the country.


The need for new standards and their application

The introduction of the NSQMHCMO Standards responds to the critical role community managed organisations (CMOs) play in delivering mental health services. These organisations, often not-for-profit and non-governmental, provide a range of services including psychosocial rehabilitation, helpline and counselling services, accommodation support, and peer support. However, they may also include some for-profit service providers, particularly smaller organisations or those catering to specific target groups interested in achieving accreditation against the CMO standards.

The new standards address the need for a structured framework that protects consumers and ensures continuous improvement in service provision. Although the NSQMHCMO Standards are voluntary, regulators or funders may mandate accreditation for CMOs providing mental health services.


Key features of the NSQMHCMO Standards

The NSQMHCMO Standards consist of three core standards:

  1. Practice Governance Standard
    • This standard assesses whether CMOs have effective governance systems to maintain and improve the reliability, safety, and quality of mental health care. It includes leadership, accountability, and continuous improvement measures to ensure services are safe and high-quality.
  2. Partnering with Consumers, Families, and Carers Standard
    • This standard ensures that consumers, families, and carers are actively involved in decision-making and service planning. It promotes a person-centred approach, encouraging the inclusion of diverse perspectives to improve service responsiveness and relevance.
  3. Model of Care Standard
    • This standard evaluates whether CMOs have systems in place to provide evidence-based, best-practice mental health services. It focuses on ensuring that care is consistent, safe, and effective, with a particular emphasis on minimising harm and improving outcomes for consumers​​​​.


Transition from NSMHS Standards

Community managed organisations currently accredited under the National Standards for Mental Health Services (NSMHS Standards) may wish to transfer to the new NSQMHCMO Standards, however it is not mandatory. These new standards provide a more specific framework tailored to the needs and contexts of CMOs, potentially offering a better fit for their operational models and service delivery approaches​​​​. We encourage service providers to evaluate whether these Standards align more appropriately with their service model.


The accreditation process

The accreditation process for the NSQMHCMO Standards follows a three-year cycle and involves a staged assessment process:

  • Initial Assessment: This comprises a desktop review where the organisation’s documentation and processes are evaluated.
  • Verification and Demonstration Assessment: Conducted either on-site or virtually, this stage involves a thorough examination of the organisation’s operations and compliance with the standards.
  • Remediation Period: If any material concerns are identified, organisations are given time to address these issues before a final assessment​​​​.


Support and resources

The launch of the NSQMHCMO Standards is a key step toward excellence in mental health services. CMOs adopting these standards can ensure they provide high-quality, safe, and effective care. This robust framework will guide organisations through accreditation, fostering continuous improvement in mental health care.

QIP provides comprehensive support, including personalised guidance, preparation resources, and an ongoing partnership throughout the accreditation cycle to CMOs. For more information or to begin the accreditation process, contact our team today.