West Australian hospital wins mental health partnership award

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A pioneering collaborative approach to drug-dependency treatment in Western Australia has been officially recognised by the Mental Health Commission at an awards ceremony.

Joondalup Health Campus (JHC) has teamed up with the North Metro Community Alcohol and Drug Service (NMCADS) and NM Joondalup Community Mental Health to provide a comprehensive range of patient care.

Their work together won the 'partnership' category at the 2018 Western Australian Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Conference.

“Partnerships across services may provide better long-term outcomes for our patients,” said JHC's mental health services manager Linda Locke. “For patients, it means they are getting access, in a more timely way, to the help they need both during their stay in hospital and when they return home.”

JHC, a private facility based in Perth's northern suburbs, set up a drug and alcohol liaison 'inreach' service with its partners in late 2015 – and last year the team received nearly 1,000 referrals from within the hospital.

“By partnering, patients attending the hospital with drug or alcohol issues are being given intervention, at a time when they may be most receptive, for longer-term support,” Ms Locke said.  “The three-way partnership means better continuity of care for patients after they leave hospital.”

NMCADS is itself a partnership between between Cyrenian House, which provides counseling and support for individuals and their families, and Next Step – which offers medical and psychological services.

Next Step clinical nurse specialist Greg Gordon, an inaugural member of the JHC's inreach team, has helped train hospital staff to understand the needs of patients with drug and alcohol issues.

“When a nurse, doctor or anyone else caring for a patient identifies that the patient may have a drug or alcohol issue, they now ask if they would like to have contact with the drug and alcohol inreach team, who can provide them with an assessment, advice on treatment and support options,” he said.

The Mental Health Commission's recognition could help ensure the future of the partnership, said Next Step's director of clinical services Richard O’Regan, who hopes the initiative can be expanded.

“This award recognises a project that has never occurred in WA before in terms of the collaboration between these sorts of services.

“It means that patients who present to hospital with a drug or alcohol issue are provided with an assessment and specialised intervention. It’s like opening a door for these people to get the longer term help they need,” Mr O'Regan said.

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