Significant progress in the planning of future mental health, drug and alcohol services in the Western NSW Local Health District has been made since the release of a report in July which followed an independent Review promoting more contemporary ways to care for people with a mental illness.
The Review was undertaken to help the Health District understand where changes could be made to further improve the mix and configuration of mental health and drug and alcohol services, to further improve outcomes for mental health patients and to ensure that the most effective and efficient use resources are being made.
Director of Operations Lindsey Gough said that post-Review planning phase is now well underway as the District moves towards implementing key recommendations of the Review.
“It was very important following the Review that further consultation took place with staff and other stakeholders and that we didn’t jump straight into implementing major changes without doing a lot of planning work,” Ms Gough said.
“This process is setting a very good foundation for the next steps in carrying out the Review’s recommendations”.
Following the release of the Report an Implementation Steering Committee was formed to govern the planning process. In September this Committee called for Expressions of Interest from staff to participate in seven project reference groups formed as part of the service planning process.
“We were very impressed when over 200 nominations for the 42 places available were received, which is a clear indication of the dedication and commitment of our Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol staff,” Ms Gough said.
Meg Simpson was appointed to the position of Mental Health Review Program Manager and has been overseeing the work of the project groups for the past three months under the banner of the ‘Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services Transformation Project’.
“The first stage of this work has involved planning and implementing the steps necessary to identify the detail of the future service mix and the range of community services that align with the recommendations of the Review,” Ms Simpson said.
Ensuring a cohesive and integrated system of care, increasing responsiveness to the needs of Aboriginal people, and strengthening services for people living in rural and remote areas are three key areas being developed as part of the project.
“We are pleased to announce that the Steering Committee has endorsed Cowra as a rural integrated pilot site and Brewarrina as a remote integrated pilot site,” Ms Simpson said.
“This is a very important step in the development of future service delivery in rural and remote areas, which of course form a large part of our geographical area”.
All Project Reference Groups have developed draft project plans, which have been endorsed by the Implementation Steering Committee and are expected to be approved by the Chief Executive in the New Year.
“We are calling on our other stakeholders to get involved in the next stages of consultation and planning,” Ms Simpson said.
A consultation workshop was held in November with consumers from across the District through the Partners in Recovery Consortia Consumer Advisory Group. An External Stakeholder Advisory Group is currently being formed with the first meeting planned for early February.
More information about the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Transformation Project can be found at www.wnswlhd.gov.nsw.au.