Why has community-based care been chosen as the preferred model?
Evidence shows that many people with severe and persistent mental illness can enjoy better lives by living in the community.
Mental health systems nationally and internationally are developing their community-based services in order to better support people in the community. Inpatient services are also improving to provide more contemporary, recovery-oriented models of care that ensure people move back to the community as soon as possible.
When will this transition to the community take place?
Each person will move into a community setting only if, and when, it is right for them. For some people this may take some time. Health staff will work with the person and their family and carers to create a plan based on their individual needs, strengths and wishes.
How will the transition into the community be managed to ensure the safety of patients and the wider community?
NSW Health takes the safety of people in its care and the community very seriously. Expert mental health clinicians will work with long-term inpatients, their families, carers and non-government partners to ensure they can be safely supported in the community through integrated programs and services.
Comprehensive assessments will help determine how each person may safely transition to a community setting or appropriate inpatient setting based on their strengths, needs and wishes. They will be provided with the ongoing care they need for as long as they require it.
How will people who have had long stays in hospital adjust to community-based care?
Mental health clinicians will work with people to determine how they may safely transition to living in a community setting based on their strengths and needs.
Will families be expected to provide care if their loved ones are moved into the community?
Families will not be expected to be the primary care givers for their loved ones. The support families give to those in hospital will continue when people move to the community.
Many people in long-term care have remained in contact to some extent with their families but many more have lost contact with loved ones. Reconciliation with families will be investigated. Families will be offered the opportunity to support the decision making of the person, where appropriate. Families will be helped during this process.
Are you simply reducing beds?
Mental health care in hospital will always be available for people who require hospital-level clinical treatment and rehabilitation. The NSW Government ten-year vision is about strengthening and expanding mental health services to provide a better balance of acute and community-based services.
Will there be job losses?
Mental health care in hospitals will continue to be available for people who require high levels of clinical treatment and rehabilitation where community-based care does not meet their needs. As community models of care are enhanced there may be some changes to staff requirements. Affected staff and unions will be consulted prior to any changes being made.
How will these changes affect employees in mental health facilities?
Staff will be consulted and kept informed as the Initiative is implemented. Staff will be involved in assessing people who are under their care and they will work with them as they transition to the community.
Does this mean mental health is being privatised?
No. The nature of mental illness means that there needs to be a range of partners providing mental health support for a person, their families and carers.
This will continue and expand as new models of integrated care are implemented - delivered by a combination of public mental health services, public health services, community managed organisations and/or the private sector.
The Pathways to Community Living Initiative is focused on ensuring that people with mental illness can lead the most fulfilling lives possible.