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Far West Mental Health Recovery Centre

Neami National
Project Added:
23 October 2014
Last updated:
23 October 2014

Far West Mental Health Recovery Centre

Neami National and Far West Local Health District

Summary

The Far West Mental Health Recovery Centre (FWMHRC) is public mental health admission facility to be operated in partnership with a Community Managed Organisation (CMO) in NSW.

The FWMHRC is a 10-bed unit in the grounds of Broken Hill Health Service. It provides step-up step-down care to people requiring support to overcome mental ill health.

The inclusion of the FWMHRC into the spectrum of integrated mental health and drug and alcohol programs in Far West NSW has solved a number of challenges in the delivery of collaborative, recovery based mental health care in a remote environment.

    Aim

    1. To increase the support available to people who are experiencing mental ill health in the community and after transfer from hospital. 
    2. To support a collaborative, recovery focused ethos within the Mental Health and Drug & Alcohol (MHDA) service. 

    Benefits

    • Enhanced options to support mental health consumers before they become unwell enough to require acute mental health admission
    • The possibility of extending the recovery period post mental health admission
    • Provision of mental health support close to home for people of the Far West
    • Reduced numbers of patient transfers to mental health facilities outside the LHD, therefore enhancing recovery within the community and reducing associated inconveniences, risks and transport costs  
    • Reduced pressure on acute mental health beds with an associated reduction in the use of overflow beds in Broken Hill Health Service
    • Additional employment options in remote Australia
    • Introduction of a recovery model of care into the mental health service.

    Project status

    Project started: March 2013 

    Sustained: the project has been implemented, is sustained in standard business.

    Background

    Broken Hill in Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) is in relative isolation from other major towns and cities and has a number of unique challenges in mental health service delivery. 

    The 6 bed acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit (MHIPU) in Broken Hill was often filled to capacity. Mental health patients overflowed into the adjacent Medical Unit or were flown via the Royal Flying Doctor Service for acute mental health care to Orange or Dubbo. At approximately $5,000 per trip, it was both expensive and isolating. People were separated from their loved ones, jobs and community while they were at their most vulnerable.

    Recruitment to health services in FWLHD can be problematic. At one point the MHIPU operated with 50% nursing agency staff because of the difficulty in recruiting permanent nursing staff.  The constant flow through of staff made it almost impossible to provide consistent, evidence based care.

    Implementation

    The FWLHD used Commonwealth sub-acute funding to build the Mental Health Recovery Centre. The rationale was people who required mental health support who were not at high risk of harm to themselves or others could be cared for in the subacute beds, thereby reducing the bed pressure in the MHIPU and the health service as a whole. 

    The new model involves  co-location of the service in the Broken Hill hospital grounds but Neami National, a Community Managed Organisation (CMO) with a strong recovery focus, undertakes the operational management of the FWMHRC

    Although the building is on hospital grounds, there is very little interaction with traditional hospital based hotel services and the CMO is responsible for all cleaning, food, laundry, security and the governance of the centre.

    Neami National employs Rehabilitation and Support Workers and Peer Support Workers to provide 24/7 support for program participants. 

    To keep a strong link between the LHD and the CMO, the MHDA service employs a Senior Clinician to work in the FWMHRC to offer clinical expertise and support to the Neami team. 

    Results

    The inclusion of the FWMHRC into the spectrum of integrated mental health and drug and alcohol programs in Far West NSW has solved a number of challenges in the delivery of collaborative, recovery based mental health care in a remote environment.

    Since the FWMHRC opened in March 2013 its occupancy rate has risen and the occupancy rate of the MHIPU has gradually dropped. 

    No mental health patient was nursed in anything other than a mental health bed in Broken Hill Health Service for almost one full year. The number of people transferred to hospitals outside the LHD also declined.

    Because the CMO is not reliant on employing clinicians, the FWMHRC has had no difficulty in filling its staffing profile. It has enabled access to a new workforce not previously able to be employed in the health service. This has in turn been beneficial for the community, as it has provided additional employment options in a mining town with declining employment opportunities. 

    Partnerships

    • Neami National, Community Managed Organisation 
    • Far West Local Health District

    Contact


    Director MHDA
    Far West Local Health District
    Phone: 08 8080 1539

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