Psychiatric Hostels

What a psychiatric hostel is and your rights as a resident.

People who are residents of a private psychiatric hostel are entitled to request assistance from a Mental Health Advocate.

Residents are defined under the Mental Health Act 2014 to mean a person:

  1. who is socially dependant because of mental illness; and
  2. who is residing and being cared for or treated in a psychiatric hostel.

Residents may contact us for assistance to help them enforce their rights.

Mental Health Advocates can assist residents to understand their rights, express their wishes and make a complaint if their rights are not being met.

Hostel resident rights include:

  • Right to a safe environment
  • Right to dignity, confidentiality and privacy
  • Compliance by Approved Supervisors on site with the LARU Code of Conduct
  • Right to access information held about them
  • Right to provision of quality and varied foods provided in sufficient quantities and the nature of the food provided in some hostels
  • Provision of clothing and toiletries in some hostels
  • Right to maintenance of standards in administration of medication
  • Right to recovery-oriented care and services
  • The percentage of a pension which must be returned to the residents for the resident's own use
  • Right to access an interpreter
  • Right to personal space and storage
  • Right to access adequately sized communal areas which have been appropriately furnished
  • Right to provision of clean linen
  • Exit plans and a minimum notice period prior to closure.

Psychiatric hostels

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The Hospitals and Health Services Act 1927 defines Private Psychiatric Hostels to mean:

"private premises in which 3 or more persons who –

  • are socially dependent because of mental illness; and
  • are not members of the family of the proprietor of the premises,

reside and are treated or cared for”.

Hostels which meet the definition must be licensed. The licensing is conducted by the Licensing and Accreditation Regulatory Unit (LARU) in the Department of Health.

Psychiatric hostels receive funding from the Mental Health Commission though the amount of funding received varies on the type of hostel.

The types of psychiatric hostels include:

  • those managed by private for-profit licensees,
  • community supported residential units (CSRUs),
  • Community Options housing and sub-acute services, where:
    • the building is provided by the Government, and
    • the facility is managed by a non-government not-for-profit organisation (NGOs).
  • other hostels owned and run by NGOs.

We can help

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We can assist residents of Private Psychiatric Hostels to maintain their rights.

You can contact us seeking our support if you are:

  • a resident of a private psychiatric hostel
  • in a hospital as a voluntary inpatient
  • you are referred for examination by a psychiatrist (form 1)

If you:

  • ask hostel staff to arrange access to the Mental Health Advocacy Service, the hostel staff must inform us within 24 hours.
  • are detained and referred for examination by a psychiatrist, a mental health advocate will visit or contact you within 3 days.
  • are made an involuntary inpatient, a mental health advocate will contact you within 7 days. (24 hours if you are aged under 18 years).

In any other case, a mental health advocate will visit or otherwise contact you as soon as practicable.

Mental health advocates have a range of powers when visiting private psychiatric hostels, including:

  • visiting at any time
  • viewing the resident’s medical and other records if the resident does not object
  • asking the staff questions which they must answer

More about your rights

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Hostel residents’ rights can be found in the following:

Page reviewed 11 May 2022