Mental health service boost

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on February 2, 2018

MENTAL health care in Albany will receive a facelift this year following the announcement on Tuesday that a new community mental health service would be set up in the former Albany Community Hospice building.

The proposed six-bed facility will be the first regional step up/step down service and will provide short-term residential support and individualised care for people discharged from hospital for a mental health issue, or where admission to hospital can be averted by intervening earlier.

Step up/step down services are also planned for Broome, Bunbury, Karratha and Kalgoorlie.

Mental Health minister Roger Cook made the announcement during a visit to Albany on Tuesday and said a tender of between $400,000 and $500,000 would be up for grabs for a local contractor to upgrade the former Albany Community Hospice site, situated behind the new Albany Health Campus, to the necessary standard.

“There are great deficiencies in WA for sub-acute mental health care,” he said.

“So I am very proud to announce this process.

“Keeping people out of hospital and in their community is often the best way to support their recovery from mental health issues.

“We recognise the benefit this type of service will bring to the continuum of community-based support to the Great Southern, and we are making it a reality for the people of the region.”

Local member for Albany Peter Watson reinforced the need for local mental health services close to home for patients, and said the new step up/step down service would be a “great bonus” for Albany.

“Mental health is the elephant in the room, and that elephant is starting to make more noise,” he said.

“We’ve got to have innovative ways of mental health care, and we’ve got to have something close to home.

“It’s terrible when people have to go to Perth for health care; this new service will give them a better chance of a quicker recovery.”

The Albany step up/step down service will be appointed to an experienced non-government organisation by the Mental Health Commission, and this organisation will work in collaboration with the WA Country Health Service.

The new mental health service centre is expected to open in mid-2018.