The Mental Health Branch has a major strategic role with local health districts and specialty networks in developing policy on partnerships with government, community managed organisations (CMOs) and other relevant stakeholders. This includes improving services for people with mental health issues, engaging the government and NGO sector, optimising government and NGO contribution, and evaluating outcomes.​​​​​​

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Working with CMOs

NSW Health is reforming the way in which it works with and funds the non-Government sector to deliver health and related services to people and communities across NSW through the development of Partnerships for Health. Read more about the aim of the reforms and the key program milestones.

Partnerships with residential aged care providers

Older People’s Mental Health (OPMH) community services have traditionally provided some support for older people with mental illness and/or severe and persistently challenging behaviours associated with dementia who live in residential aged care facilities (RACFs), working in partnership with the aged care providers.
This way of working has been expanded over the last 10 years and now three kinds of mental health-residential aged care partnership services have been developed:
  • specialist clinical outreach to generalist, or ‘mainstream’, RACFs
  • Mental Health-Aged Care Partnership Initiative (MHACPI) transition units – specialist 8-10 bed units within a larger RACF
  • Specialist RACFs – residential aged care facilities with a specialist role with older people with mental illness and complex needs
The Commonwealth has provided funding for the Specialist Dementia Care Program. The program is targeting people experiencing severe, but not extreme, behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). The first Specialist Dementia Care Unit (SDCU) in NSW opened in February 2020. The SDCU model is similar to the NSW Mental Health Aged Care Partnership Initiative (MHACPI) transition unit model, but dementia-specific. In NSW, specialist clinical support is provided by NSW Health mental health services. 
Existing and newly established mental health-residential aged care partnership services incldue services operated by Mission Australia, Southern Cross Care, HammondCare, RSL Lifecare, Catholic HealthCare and St Vincent de Paul. 
It is expected that these mental health-residential aged care partnership services will continue to expand over the next 10 years under the NSW mental health reforms, the Pathways to Community Living Initiative (PCLI) and the NSW Older People’s Mental Health Service Plan.

hese aged care partnership services focus on improving community-based accommodation options for people with severe and persistent mental illness and/or severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). All partnerships involve specialist mental health clinical support to the person and the RACF care team. Some people who receive these aged care partnership services may have been in hospital inpatient facilities for extended periods as there were previously no appropriate places where they could be supported in the community.

An independent evaluation and an economic evaluation of pilot mental health-residential a
ged care partnership services have highlighted the benefits of these services for older people with complex mental health needs and high satisfaction from carers and families, as well as the cost-effectiveness of these services.

Partnerships with mental health and aged care community care and support programs

By partnering with community care and support programs, OPMH services aim to improve access to mental health and/or aged care community care and supports for older people with mental health problems. Working in this way is important in meeting the complex physical, social, behavioural and psychological needs of an older person with mental health problems.

Partnerships with government departments

Memorandum of Understanding between NSW Health (including NSW Ambulance) and NSW Police Force 2018

NSW Health (including NSW Ambulance) and the NSW Police Force have agreed on a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting out how they will work together when responding to and delivering care and treatment to people accessing these services.
The high-level guiding principles put the wellbeing and safety of the person at the centre of decision-making. It provides a framework that focusses on interagency cooperation to deliver care to patients in a safe environment.
The MOU has been broadened beyond people in a mental health emergency – and now includes a section on situations involving patients in police custody and a section on the management of public safety issues in health settings.

Housing and Mental Health Agreement 2022 (HMHA 22)

The Housing and Mental Health Agreement 2022 (HMA 22) is an agreement between NSW Health and the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ). It acknowledges the important relationship between housing and mental health and commits the agencies to work together and engage key stakeholders to achieve a common vision that:

"People who live with mental illness have timely access to safe, secure, appropriate housing; and mental health supports in place when needed, to sustain housing, live well in the community and lead their recovery."

No Exits from Government Services into Homelessness

Many highly vulnerable people leaving government services have multiple and complex needs or experience unpredictable exit pathways that significantly increase their risk of homelessness.

The NSW Homelessness Strategy 2018-2023 emphasises the need for accountability across government so all agencies share responsibility for preventing homelessness and increasing access to supports and services.

No Exits for Government Services into Homelessness - a framework for multi-agency action 2020 outlines agreed service principles for effective and coordinated planning across NSW government agencies to support people to move into stable accommodation with the vision that no one should leave government services into homelessness.

The Framework aligns with, and supports, NSW Health to deliver on commitments to work across the health system and the interface with social care to improve outcomes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Partnerships with interstate government departments

A number of agreements between NSW and other States have been developed to allow the cross-border transfer of persons covered by mental health legislation. Find out more about Interstate Transfer Agreements for Forensic and Civil Patients.

Current as at: Friday 19 April 2024
Contact page owner: Mental Health