ACT Labor to invest $30 million for more staff, more services in mental health

On average, Canberrans are the best educated, best paid and healthiest people in Australia.    ACT Labor is providing more doctors, more nurses and more beds every year across both our public hospitals.

Right now ACT Labor is investing $1.3 billion each year to make our health system even stronger and deliver health care where and when it’s needed.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health which is why ACT Labor has steadily increased mental health expenditure since 2001 from $27 million to $103 million in 2012-13.  We have invested in new state-of-the art facilities to ensure we are providing contemporary models of care in appropriate, therapeutic environments that help patients to get well.

We understand that when dealing with mental health issues a holistic model of care is needed, for those suffering, and for their family and friends who support them.  We know that sometimes people need a mix of both inpatient care, as well as appropriate care in the community.  That’s why this year we opened a new Adult Mental Health Unit which is leading the way in state-of-the-art design and the newest models of mental health care.  We have worked in partnership with community sector organisations to deliver the care people need where and when they need it.

ACT Labor has an excellent track record of investing in mental health services in Canberra and we have delivered more mental health beds than the national average.

The ACT’s number of available mental health beds per 100,000 people was 41.1 in 2009-10 – above the national average of 39.9.

The services ACT Labor has delivered aim to improve the lives of people in our community who are dealing with mental illness.   Our seclusion rates are low and the proportion of readmissions to hospital for mental health clients within 28 days of discharge was 4.6% in 2009-10 – the best result in the country and well below the national average of 14.3%.

But there is more to do.

If re-elected, ACT Labor will invest $30 million for new mental health beds, more community mental health services and new support services for suicide prevention and families and friends of those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

We will employ at least 70 more mental health staff for more beds and services.  Funding will also provide more follow up services for young people and intensive rehabilitation services for those in our community who suffer from chronic mental illness.

 

Policy costings

 

ACT Labor will invest $30.033 million in recurrent funding to employ at least 70 new staff to:

  • Expand the Adult Mental Health Unit by a further 5 beds to a total of 40 beds;
  • Develop a 6 bed adolescent mental health service;
  • Begin a 15 bed secure mental health unit;
  • Expand community mental health services and provide half of the $10 million in new funding to community based, non-government organisations;
  • Add 5 beds to the psychogeriatric unit at Calvary Public Hospital; and
  • Establish new services to be delivered by both Government and the community sector including:
    • Improved suicide prevention services and additional support for people who have recently lost a loved one to suicide;
    • Better follow-up services for young people discharged from inpatient or high level care services to maximise long-term  outcomes and provide early intervention; and
    • Intensive rehabilitation services for people with chronic mental illness.

Some of these initiatives involve new ways of caring for people.  The adolescent inpatient service and the secure mental health unit, for example, will involve developing completely new models of care and establishing appropriate facilities.  The associated costs will be confirmed through the design phase and the development of the model of care.

 

ACT Labor’s plan for more staff and more mental health services

Initiative

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

TOTAL

Adult beds

-

-

$0.668m

$1.720m

$2.388m

Adolescent beds

-

-

-

$2.000m

$2.000m*

Secure beds

-

-

$4.440m

$4.573m

$9.013m*

Growth in community mental health services

$1.000m

$2.067m

$3.170m

$4.309m

$10.546m

Improved suicide prevention

-

$0.500m

$0.773m

$1.053m

$2.326m

Follow-up for young people

-

-

$0.500m

$1.030m

$1.530m

Intensive rehabilitation

-

-

-

$0.500m

$0.500m

Expand psychogeriatric services at Calvary

-

-

$1.00m

$1.030m

$2.030m

TOTAL

$1.000

$2.567

$9.651

$16.215

$30.333

*Operational costs will be confirmed following development of the models of care with stakeholders and are subject to change.

 

What will ACT Labor deliver in mental health services?

 

We will expand the Adult Mental Health Unit by a further 5 beds to bring our capacity to 40

The new unit was opened in March this year.   We recently expanded the number of beds in the new unit from 32 to 35, with capacity to go to 40 beds.  This additional funding will include 11 additional nurses, doctors and other health professionals to staff the additional five beds.

The new Adult Mental Health unit provides a significant enhancement in the range of mental health services available to our community, with a holistic model of care for mental health patients which is setting a new benchmark for care, leading the nation in every way.

 

ACT Labor will develop a 6 bed adolescent mental health service

There are currently no inpatient facilities specifically designed for adolescents, which take into account their specific needs as young people.  Our health infrastructure plan outlined the need for development of specific adolescent facilities and this funding now commits ACT Labor to develop the service.  The funding allocated in this policy is the anticipated operational cost, which will be refined through development of the model of care.  An ACT Labor Government will develop the model of care and location of the service with stakeholders, which will confirm the staffing requirements, but it is anticipated that 15 nurses, doctors and health professionals will be required.

 

We will provide funding to begin a 15 bed secure mental health unit

This new operational funding, follows a commitment by ACT Labor to build a new 15-bed secure mental health facility.  Design is currently underway for the facility with the preferred location to be at the former Quamby site and this design work is expected to be finalised by next year.  It is anticipated that the new facility will be opened in 2016.  This funding commits ACT Labor to the staffing and operational requirements of the unit.  The model of care is yet to be finalised which will confirm the staffing requirements and operational costs, but it is expected at least 35 nurses, doctors and health professionals will be required.

 

ACT Labor will expand community mental health services and provide half of the $10 million in new funding to community based, non-government organisations

Not everyone with mental illness requires hospitalisation and those who do often require ongoing services based in the community following their discharge.  Funding for community based services is an important part of providing comprehensive mental health services.  This funding will meet increasing demand for community care delivered by ACT government and non government organisations.

Every year we provide growth funding into the non-government sector to enable community sector mental health organisations to deliver additional services.  In 2012-2013 those funds will support a range of people such as refugees and new migrants, transgender people, and people suffering post traumatic stress disorder.  This additional funding will enable community sector organisations to expand the capacity of their services and identify new areas to target.  Funds will be allocated to non government organisations in areas of need and based on their capacity to deliver.

 

And we will establish new services to be delivered in partnership with the community sector

This additional funding will see ACT Labor deliver:

  • Improved suicide prevention services and additional support for people who have recently lost a loved one to suicide;
  • Better follow-up services for young people discharged from inpatient or high level care services to maximise long-term outcomes and provide early intervention; and
  • Intensive rehabilitation services for people with chronic mental illness.

 

We will add 5 more beds to the psychogeriatric unit at Calvary Public Hospital

This initiative forms part of the previously announced plan for more beds, nurses, doctors and health professionals at Calvary Public Hospital.  This initiative will see an expansion of existing psychogeriatric services delivered at Calvary and to help meet growing demand.

 

Why is more investment in mental health needed?

About one in five Australians is affected with a mental illness each year.  Mental health problems are many and varied, and include anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia personality disorders, post traumatic stress disorder and psychosis.

Sometimes mental illness is triggered by a traumatic or stressful event, an injury or physical ill health.  That’s why ACT Labor is committed to providing a range of services both in hospital and in the community to support those experiencing mental health problems.

This additional funding will enable us to meet growing demand, develop new services and deliver on our commitments under the national mental health agreement.

This new funding will build on the work we have already done and the record investments we have made in mental health.

 

What have we already delivered for mental health?

ACT Labor has an excellent track record in providing new and expanded mental health services for our community.  This year the ACT Labor Government opened a new Adult Mental Health Unit to replace the ageing Psychiatric Services Unit.  This state-of-the-art facility has set a new benchmark in design and mental health care.

The 35 bed unit utilises natural light and is consumer focused, incorporating a range of dedicated therapy and recreation areas to maximise the effectiveness of the therapeutic program. Patients have access to outdoor areas with courtyards, gardens and a walking track, and the unit has adopted a new model of care that will give staff more time with consumers.  This new commitment of funds will see the expansion of beds in the Adult mental Health Unit to a total of 40 beds.

We have also developed new pathways for patients arriving at the Emergency Department with mental health concerns.  This group of patients is now seen and assessed in a specialist Mental Health Assessment Unit which provides quick access to specialised assessment within a safe and appropriate environment.

We have established step-up step-down facilities for adolescents and adults to help transition from inpatient care back into the community or to provide additional support as a step before hospital treatment.

Not everyone experiencing a mental health issue will require hospital care and in fact many are cared for in the community.  Each year we have provided more money for the ACT Health Directorate to deliver mental health services to people in the community.

ACT Labor has also implemented a successful mental health community policing initiative that promotes coordination between police and mental health services and enhances dignity and safety of clients.

Mental Health clinicians are embedded within the Police Operations Centre to provide expertise and advice to police on patrol.  As part of this initiative, police are also receiving mental health training which helps build awareness of mental health issues and the skills to deal with situations that might arise.