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How was the Best Practice Guidance developed?

The Best Practice Guidance is a national project which was initiated by the National Director for Mental Health. It forms part of the Mental Health Division Operational Plan for 2016 and 2017.

The Quality Service User Safety (QSUS) department within the HSE Mental Health Division developed the Guidance. The QSUS team works at national level to support service users, managers and clinicians across the country. Their role is to make sure mental health services in Ireland are safe and of the highest quality. We began developing this Guidance in May 2016 in consultation with: service users, families, carers, service user advocacy groups, and staff from mental health services.

We used this collaborative approach to identify what was required, so that afterwards we could smoothly put the Guidance in place in all mental health services throughout Ireland. An initial draft Guidance document and self assessment framework was developed and piloted in four services across Ireland. The four pilot sites were:

• Sligo –A Community Adult Mental Health Team

• Dublin – The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Linn Dara

• Ballinasloe – The Psychiatry of Later Life team (Sector 2)

• Cork – The Approved Centre at Cork University Hospital

The support of the people taking part in these pilots allowed us to test the documents and to make sure they were user friendly and the format was understandable. Then we could complete and launch the final Best Practice Guidance.

Each pilot site established a self-assessment team made up of a multidisciplinary team (including, where possible, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists and nurses), service users and carers.

The learning from the pilot sites enabled the Best Practice Guidance and the self assessment framework to be further refined. The pilot project was extremely beneficial in that it also resulted in identifying factors that would support the roll out of the Best Practice Guidance nationally.


Some of the pilot participants included comments about their experience.

"Involvement in the Draft HSE Best Practice Guidance process was very useful for the team as it gave us an opportunity to scrutinise our performance with regard to adherence to best practice. We were also pleased to discover that we do, in fact, already meet many of the aims in the areas we looked at. In our efforts towards continuous improvement, the experience gave us the target for the future."

"The guidelines were a great way of generating ideas for improvement."

"It’s great that frontline staff are involved in the development of these guidelines. It was refreshing that the division asked working Multi Disciplinary Teams (MDT) to consider the practicalities of using the Guidance."

"The involvement of carers in the process was invaluable and the carer in our team appreciated the experience of being a respected member of the team."

"Working through the Guidance really helped bring the team together."

"Being involved in the pilot was an opportunity to join the dots for safer better healthcare in a Child Adolescent, Mental Health Service (CAMHS) setting."

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