South West Healthcare and Mind Australia partnership delivers vital mental health services in Warrnambool
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South West Healthcare and Mind Australia partnership delivers vital mental health services in Warrnambool

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Twelve months since its launch, a short-term residential mental health facility has helped more than 100 people return to employment, begin studies and learn strategies to aid their recovery. Warrnambool’s Ngootyoong Prevention and Recovery Centre (PARC), in Moore Street, provides mental health care and support in a home-like environment. Services are delivered via a partnership between South West Healthcare (SWH) and Mind Australia. The centre helps to free up vital acute hospital beds. Prior to the centre’s opening about forty per cent of PARC guests receiving treatment this year would have been admitted to hospital, while the remaining 60 per cent may have not received the appropriate mental health support. Mind executive director of operations Bronwyn Lawman said prevention and early intervention was key to the PARC model. “We’re trying, by stepping people up from community (into the centre), to prevent an admission into acute inpatient units. That’s the ideal scenario to stop them going in (to hospital).” She said 58 per cent of people were referred to PARC from home, while 42 per cent of guests used the centre following a SWH mental health hospital admission. People with a range of conditions including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar and borderline personality disorder have accessed treatment and support services. The average length of stay is 25 days with guests able to remain at the centre for up to 28 days. Ms Lawman said guests were from the region’s five local government areas and ranged in age from 16 years up to those in their early 70s, with the average age of guests in their mid 30s. The breakdown of people using the service in its first year is 67 per cent females to 33 per cent males. Ms Lawman said prior to its opening, people would have had to travel outside the region to access support or may not have accessed support services at all. She said PARC, which has 10 beds, allowed people to stay close to their families and feedback had been amazing. Ms Lawman said it made her happy to hear the feedback about the centre, its staff and the strategies guests had learnt while there. “I expect that will only improve and build as time goes on as the teams get stronger.” SWH mental health services associate director Jodi Bateman said it had been successful 12 months and the partnership between SWH and Mind was “pivotal”. She said so many people who stayed at the centre went on to have meaningful and fulfilling lives. “There’s a lot of people deriving lots of benefits from PARC and it didn’t previously exist so I think it’s something that’s well appreciated within the clinical mental health services,” Mrs Bateman said. She said of the 108 people who had accessed the centre in the past 12 months and changes in guests were obvious after receiving support. “They come here not feeling so great and they learn strategies to cope with whatever troubles they’re dealing with at the time and can develop a sense of hope for their future,” Mrs Bateman said. “They’re encouraged to go out into their communities and take up employment or education and live a life of meaning.” Ngootyoong PARC ​manager Emily Williams said she wanted to expand the service in the next 12 months. “We want to develop more initiatives, including continuing to grow the current group program already provided,” Ms Williams said. “And we want to explore options around the potential to offer day places to enable guests to further transition to living back at home.” Have you signed up to The Standard’s daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that’s happening in the south-west.

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