Consumer Voice

Connecting the consumer voice -  feedback on community information and update sessions

Prepared by Renate Hughes
Role: Consumer Representative on the TMHRP Reference Group & Hospital Avoidance Working Group.
Date: 31 January 2020

Over recent weeks I have shared the work of the TMHRP with a range of mental health consumers, health and community groups and individuals. This included sharing and discussing the TMHRP Communiques, PowerPoint presentation from the combined working group meeting (January 2020) and notes from the Hospital Avoidance Program (HAP) working group.

The focus of my update with consumers and community reflects my membership of the TMHRP Reference Group and the HAP Working Group.

Consumer representatives are also members of the working groups for Integration Hubs, Integrated Suicide Response, and People with Complex needs. The discussions presented here reflect my focus on Hospital Avoidance and consumer needs.

The discussions saw a strong positive consumer voice for new pathways to community-based mental health services. This included both acute care and continuing care that can meet the needs of consumers and community in southern Tasmania.

Consumer feedback included that core services needed to be within the community and be accessible, available out of hours and have clear points of contact and entry to care. There was a great deal of excitement about the capital developments at St Johns Park and the Peacock Centre leading this change of service model.

The combination of acute community beds with ‘one stop shop’ services and collaboration with services across health, well-being, housing, education, life skills and peer support was highlighted by consumers.

In the words of one consumer “Yes, I want to avoid hospital. I get worse. I want to learn to manage my health and have support that is ‘on the spot’ when I am in crisis”. Generally, the ED was viewed as a traumatic entry point to care, one consumer commented “Two days in the ED is not recovery oriented”.[1]

Consumer and community feedback included the importance of any integrated mental health service working well with emergency services, including Ambulance and Police as well as community sector mental health services, NDIS providers, housing and support services.

Mental Health Consumers tended to support both an acute care stream and continuing care stream. This being accommodated largely via the Hubs working closely with the RHH Department of Psychiatry and ED.

Consumers and community were engaged around the resource provided on St Vincent Hospital Melbourne’s Safe Haven Café as a model for providing immediate, on site support and respite. The Safe Haven approach was discussed as a key element of service delivery via the future Hubs and avoiding presentation at the ED or escalation to crisis for some consumers.

Consumers were vocal in their support for an enhanced peer workforce in the design and delivery of an integrated mental health system. Consumers saw a peer workforce as expanding support, advocacy, networking, mentoring, life skills development and resilience beyond current clinical services and roles.

[1] Any direct comments from consumers used in this item were agreed to at the time of meeting, with all identifying details removed.