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Family Resource Guide

The CARE Act is a collaborative civil court process. This process is for individuals living with schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders. It connects eligible individuals with treatment, services/supports, and housing.

Family Resource Guide

This guide can help you learn more about supporting your family member during the CARE process. It does not need to be read from start to finish. You can refer to this information when you need it. The following summary gives you an overview of this guide.

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Overview of the Family Resource Guide

The Importance of Family in Supporting Individuals Living with Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders

Family members are important in helping a relative living with schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders. They can help with basic needs, encourage recovery, and share context about someone’s life. Even with family support, there can be challenges.

The CARE process can help families get support from health care providers and community resources. This collaboration can promote recovery.

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Family Members & CARE

Role of Family Members in the CARE Process

Through the CARE process, family members can be petitioners or volunteer supporters. They can also help informally by giving guidance and encouragement.

Family as Petitioners
Specific family members can start the CARE process as petitioners by filing a petition with the court. This helps to decide if their relative is eligible for CARE services. Guidance is available through California Courts’ Self-Help Centers.

After the petition, if the CARE participant agrees, the family member can continue to take part in the process.

Family as a Volunteer Supporter
A CARE participant can make a family member their volunteer supporter. The volunteer supporter helps them understand and share their decisions. This role can help maintain the participant’s autonomy and cultural needs. Volunteer supporters should follow the essential practices outlined in the CARE Act. You can learn more about the essential practices in this section.

Family as an Informal Support
Family members don’t have to be formal volunteer supporters. If the CARE participant agrees, they can offer support in other ways. This could include attending hearings, at the participant’s request.

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Information Sharing with Family Members

Federal and state laws dictate what information health care providers can share. These laws include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. There are exceptions to these laws for emergencies and clinical needs. Information can also be shared if the patient allows it. This means medical professionals might not be able to share everything with families, but families can still share important background information with medical professionals. Sharing this information can help them plan treatment.

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Using a Trauma-informed Approach

Overview of Trauma

Trauma strongly impacts people. When there is danger, your body releases hormones like cortisol. Cortisol causes fight, flight, or freeze responses. With help, your body can return to normal. Without help, that trauma might not get resolved. This could lead to toxic stress. Stress can be caused by childhood trauma (also known as “adverse childhood experiences”). Stress can also come from repeated unequal treatment, stigma, unmet needs, and health issues.

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Goals & Strategies of a Trauma-informed Approach

A trauma-informed approach helps people feel safe and empowered. It can also help with healing. This approach aims to understand trauma, support recovery, and respect individuals. A trauma-informed approach uses a few strategies. These include anticipating triggers, using cultural humility, using cross-cultural communication, taking a strengths-based approach, using trauma-informed listening skills, and avoiding judgment. These methods can offer compassionate support to those affected by trauma.

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Self-Care for Family & Other Natural Supports

Family members might experience burnout for many reasons. These could include fatigue, stress, loss of hope, lack of progress, commitment strain, and intensive contact. Burnout can make you feel overwhelmed and irritable. You might also self-medicate or struggle to communicate. You may experience issues such as depression, anxiety, and worsening health conditions.

As a family caregiver or support, you can incorporate activities like walks, spiritual practices, and healthy behaviors. You should also seek to celebrate wins and acknowledge challenges. It might be helpful to make a Self-care On the Spot (SOS) list with calming activities, like music or a walk to reduce stress.

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Action Steps for Families

This section provides five action steps for families in the CARE process. These action steps acknowledge past work and suggest new ways to support relatives.

  • Action Step 1: Work to foster a collaborative partnership with the CARE participant’s mental health practitioners.
  • Action Step 2: Support the individual with their goals and recovery.
  • Action Step 3: Reassess communication and relationship patterns.
  • Action Step 4: Develop a deeper understanding of schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders and lived experience.
  • Action Step 5: Plan together as a family support network.

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Family Psychoeducation (FPE)

Family psychoeducation (FPE) courses can help the families of people living with schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders. Families can learn about the disease and how they can help their relative. FPE aims to strengthen relationships, prevent setbacks, help with treatment adherence, and promote supportive communication and problem-solving skills. In an FPE program, you’ll address clinical and social needs, treatment adherence, crisis management, and family support.

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Resources for Families

This section has information, resources, and trainings for family members, including:

  • Links to resources, such as National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI’s) support, online forums, caregiving tips, self-care resources, and specialized toolkits.
  • Guidance for developing both informal and support networks, like county-based programs or other diagnosis-specific groups.
  • CARE-specific trainings and materials available on the CARE Act Resource Center.

Click here to go to this section of the Family Resource Guide.