Dubbo voluntary mental health unit starts afresh

The rebooting of a voluntary mental health facility on the grounds of Dubbo Hospital is expected to fill its 10 beds “very quickly”.

Jason Crisp, the director of Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services for the Western NSW Local Health District, reported on Wednesday that “in previous times, it wasn’t always full”.

But at the launch of a “new chapter” for the Dubbo Mental Health Rehabilitation and Recovery Centre, the director assured Western NSW residents that a “new partnership and a new way of delivering a service” would better meet their needs.

The $7.2 million centre was officially opened in 2013. It filled the sub-acute gap in the continuum of mental health services in the region and sought to keep people with mental illness out of hospital. “Consumers” over the age of 18 years voluntarily entered the facility operated by non-government organisation Neami National.

After the cutting of a ribbon and cake at the centre on Wednesday, Mr Crisp said Neami National had done a “wonderful job of working with a particular cohort of consumers for a very long period of time, five years overall”.

But he confirmed that Flourish Australia had won a competitive tender to work with health district clinicians in taking the centre in a new direction.

A rigid six-week program previously offered at the centre had been replaced with a “nimble and agile” service that would cater to people needing to stay in the facility for different reasons and periods of time, the director said.

“Rather than us dictating to them...they work with us and develop their own recovery journey and care plan,” Mr Crisp said. “I think we probably didn’t design the (previous) model of care in a manner that facilitated (the centre) being full.”

Flourish Australia’s general manager of operations Andrew O’Brien took part in Wednesday’s celebrations. He said its staff at the centre were providing psychosocial support to get people  “back to their communities”, jobs and education.

He said the new model of care involving collaboration of clinicians and psychosocial support staff was a “first in the district”.

The centre has a staff of about 15 with Mr O’Brien confirming that “most” of its Flourish Australia members are “peer workers who have lived and breathed the mental health system themselves”.

A “specialist” mental health provider”, Flourish Australia has been operating in Western NSW for 12 years. 

The health district is consulting with “local elders” on a new name for the centre and the mental health inpatient unit at Dubbo Hospital.