Working with the person and their clinician

Some people with bipolar disorder prefer to manage their treatment with their clinician as independently as possible. Others welcome the opportunity to form a team with their clinician and caregiver to deal with certain aspects of treatment.

If you would like to work with the person and their clinician to help manage the illness:

  • Discuss with the person that you would like to work with them and their clinician. If you would like to accompany the person to an appointment, offer to do so.
  • Ask the person to let their clinician know that you are the primary caregiver and your contact details in case there is an emergency and the clinician needs to contact you.
  • Find out about confidentiality laws that may restrict clinicians from being able to provide information and discuss their patient’s treatment with you (e.g. ask a clinician or caregiver support organization about relevant laws and codes of practice).
  • In order to overcome restrictions on confidentiality, discuss with the person what information they would like the clinician to share with you and under what circumstances (e.g. if the person becomes very ill, or information to assist in the person’s ongoing care after discharge from hospital). Ask the person to let their clinician know what you have agreed upon.
  • Keep in mind that you can contact the clinician or mental health team if you are concerned about the person’s wellbeing. You can express your concerns or try to get help for the person even if the health professional is restricted in the information they give you due to confidentiality laws.
  • If necessary, discuss with the person developing power of attorney agreements or plans to arrange what you can do to help with treatment or other decisions if they become severely ill (see planning to deal with severe illness).
  • While the person is severely ill, try to keep in contact with their treatment team.
  • When communicating with the person’s clinician, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to ask for clarification if the information provided is confusing (e.g. “What are the possible side effects of that treatment?”).
  • See also supporting the person’s treatment.