Continuity of Care

Unanticipated Absence from Practice: Colleague Designation Plan

In case of an emergency, make sure your clients are taken care of. Download the Absence from Practice: Continuity of Care Plan Form

The Minnesota Psychological Association now offers its members the option of filing a form identifying colleagues to be contacted in the event of their unanticipated absence from practice. Historically, when clients or colleagues were unable to reach their psychologists, they have sometimes contacted MPA for information or assistance. Completion of this form would allow MPA staff to provide callers with an appropriate contact person. Using this service will also assist members in meeting their ethical responsibility (as outlined in the APA Ethics Code) which states that “psychologists make reasonable efforts to plan for facilitating services in the event that psychological services are interrupted by factors such as the psychologist’s illness, death, unavailability, relocation, or retirement or by the client’s/patient’s relocation or financial limitations.” (APA, 2002, p. 7).

Members using this service designate at least two qualified colleagues (psychologists or other mental health professionals) who have indicated a willingness to assume responsibility for managing the triage of the individual’s practice in such circumstances. Advanced arrangements for the financial compensation of these colleagues, perhaps at their hourly rate, will likely increase their willingness and ability to assume these potentially-onerous responsibilities.

MPA does not offer a referral service to consumers and should not be relied upon to manage a member’s caseload or to close the practice temporarily or permanently. The“Colleague Designation Plan” form will only identify contact persons. It is the responsibility of the individual to develop a detailed plan for the notification of clients, maintenance and storage of records, and management of other professional and clinical responsibilities. This detailed plan should be provided to the identified colleagues.

The “Colleague Designation Plan” form will need to be updated annually, and maintenance of MPA membership is required for it to remain on file. This service is available to MPA members at no charge.

Janet T. Thomas, Psy.D., LP, January 2010