The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a new Quality Standard to help improve key areas of health and social care so that people are offered the best care available.

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The quality standard for bipolar disorder in adults is made up of 8 statements that describe high-quality care for service users with bipolar disorder. These statements set out the quality of care you should receive.

1. Adults who see their GP with symptoms of depression are referred for a specialist mental health assessment if they have not been in control of their mood and behaviour for 4 days in a row or longer.

2. Adults with bipolar disorder have a care plan that specifies what to look out for that might mean they are becoming unwell again or things that might act as a 'trigger' to becoming unwell, what the person would prefer to happen if they become unwell again and their personal recovery goals.

3. Carers of adults with bipolar disorder (who may be family members, partners or friends) are involved in care planning, decision-making and information sharing about the adult with bipolar disorder, which should be agreed with the person and included in their care plan. This is particularly important at the time of crisis when information should be given to carers who may need to make decisions on behalf of the adult with bipolar disorder if they are unable to.

4. Adults with bipolar disorder are offered psychological treatment for bipolar disorder to help them manage their symptoms and stay well in the future.

5. Adults with bipolar disorder who are prescribed lithium have regular blood tests to check the amount of lithium in their blood and have their dose changed if they are not getting the right amount to ensure that it is both effective and non-toxic.

6. Women who may become pregnant or who are pregnant are not prescribed a medication called valproate to treat bipolar disorder, unless other treatments are unsuitable or do not work. Valproate can harm unborn babies.

7. Adults with bipolar disorder have a physical health assessment at least once a year and receive support if any health problems are identified. A copy of the results should be sent to their care coordinator and psychiatrist, and put in their records.

8. Adults with bipolar disorder who work or wish to find or return to work receive a place on an employment scheme (also called a supported employment programme) that helps them to stay in their current job, or to find or return to work quickly.

Visit the NICE website to find out more