What is a designated carer?

A designated carer is someone who is involved as a contact and support person in your treatment and recovery when admitted to a mental health unit.

Can I choose my own designated carer?

Yes, you are allowed to nominate the person you want as your designated carer while at hospital. If you have a Guardian, that person will automatically be your designated carer.

How many designated carers can I choose?

You can nominate up to 2 designated carers.

Can I choose not to have a designated carer?

While you can decide not to nominate a designated carer, you are still required by law to have one while admitted to a mental health unit. If you decide not to nominate a designated carer, the mental health unit will help choose one for you. It will be either:

  1. Your Guardian (if you have one)
  2. Your parent  (if you are between the ages of 14-18)
  3. Your partner or spouse
  4. Someone who acts as your primary carer (who is not a paid professional carer)
  5. Your close friend or relative. This is likely someone with whom you already have a close connection and who supports you frequently

What is a principal care provider? 

A principle care provider is a person who is mainly responsible for providing support and care to you but is not a paid professional carer. They can either receive or provide relevant information about you, your care and treatment when you admitted to a mental health unit.

Can I choose my principal care provider?

You cannot choose your principal care provider as this is decided by the mental health unit. But the mental health unit cannot choose someone to be your principal care provider if you have excluded them from receiving updates and information about your care or treatment.

The mental health unit should always consider your views when deciding who will be your principal care provider.

Can my designated carer also be my principal care provider?

Yes, one of your designated carers can also be your principal care provider.

Can I decline to share my care and treatment information with my carers?

Yes, generally you can exclude people from being given information about your care and treatment. However, your designated carer and principal care provider can still receive information about your care and treatment if:

  • The mental health unit decides you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
  • Not sharing information with your carers may put either you or other people at risk of harm.

When will the hospital contact my carers?

Your nominated carers will be notified:

    • When you have been admitted into a mental health unit
    • When you have been discharged
    • When you have been reclassified from involuntary to voluntary admission status
    • Before you have your mental health assessment
    • When you have left the mental health unit without permission
    • When an application has been submitted by your doctor for a community treatment order (CTO)

Treatment team: Is the group of staff professionals in the hospital who observe, evaluate and assess your recovery progress while you have been admitted to the mental health unit

  • Whenever a decision is made to review, reject or stop your CTO
  • When an application has been submitted by your doctor for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Whenever you have an urgent surgical procedure required
  • Whenever an application has been put to the Secretary of the Ministry of Health or Mental Review Health Tribunal asking for consent to a surgical operation or special medical treatment
  • With any matters that you take before the Mental Health Review Tribunal, including orders and appeals.



Consider first providing feedback or making a complaint directly to the health service or staff. Click the link


If you would like to escalate the matter further, you can click here to make an inquiry or lodge a complaint online to the Health Care Complaints Commission or call 1800 043 159.



Visit the Official Visitors website or call 1800 208 218



Contact Mental Health Advocacy Service, Legal Aid on 1300 888 529. You can also visit the Legal Aid website



A summary version of this resource is distributed as a printed pamphlet in NSW mental health inpatient and community mental health units, and other clinics.
You can download a printable version of the resource by clicking on this graphic.