For data-recording purposes, mental health service contact type and duration is defined from the perspective of a client, and does not account for clinician time.
A mental health community contact is also defined from the point of view of the recipient – that is, the external service provider or community group.
Definition of a contact
A service contact is contact between a patient or client and an ambulatory care health unit (including outpatient and community health units) that results in a dated entry being made in the client record (or would have required a dated entry if the client had already been registered).
Service contacts are different from administrative and other types of contacts because of the need to record data in the client record.
However, there may be instances where notes are made in the client record that have not been prompted by a service contact with a patient/client (for example, noting receipt of test results that require no further action).
These instances are not to be regarded as service contacts.
Note that the definition cannot capture case complexity or level of resource usage with each service contact alone.
Service contact for one person
A service contact can include either face-to-face, telephone or video-link service delivery modes.
Service contacts would either be with a client, carer or family member or another professional or mental health worker involved in providing care. They do not include contacts of an administrative nature (for example, telephone contact to schedule an appointment) except where a matter would need to be noted on a patient’s record.
If two or more patients/clients are present during a service contact with or without their carers, it is regarded as a group session.
A service contact is also regarded as a group session if the carers of two or more patients/clients are present at the service contact without the patients/clients and service contact is noted in the patient’s/client’s individual record.
If more than one staff member participates in a group activity, the service contact is recorded by only one nominated staff member. The other staff member’s participation is noted in the number of service providers.
Community contact definition
Community contacts are provided by mental health services to community organisations or external service providers. The focus of the service is the external service provider, group or organisation rather than the individual client or client group.
Timeliness of data entry
All contacts are due by the 10th day of the following month.