Efficiency to lift mental care

COMMUNITY is where the heart is - that's why it's at the centre of two new Ipswich mental health projects.

As health experts across regional Queensland sent out a plea for more government funding on Wednesday, a top West Moreton specialist bucked the trend, saying collaboration and cutting back service duplication was the key to meeting the needs of people with psychological problems.

An APN special investigation today reveals 708 matters were heard in the Ipswich Mental Health Review Tribunal sittings last financial year.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Mental Health and Specialist Services executive director Sharon Kelly said the service was working on projects that would make a world of difference for local residents.

One will see doctors, psychiatrists, allied health professionals and nurses go into the homes of patients.

The project is expected to get off the ground in about 12 months.

She said the service was also on the verge of opening a community-based accommodation service near Wacol.

The Gailes Community Care Unit will provide transitional residence and assistance for 18 people for six-12 months at a time.

Ms Kelly said the facility was for adults who were in recovery, but required additional support and life skills rehabilitation to successfully transition to independent community living.

She said there was always a need for more funding, but it was possible to do a lot with a little.

"We can always come from the perspective that we'd like more money," Ms Kelly said.

"We run a very large mental health service focusing on that ... pointy end of mental health.

"If we've got a huge number of the population suffering from mental health problems we don't want them in acute services so we've been working closely with the Medicare Local and the non-government sector ... and developed a collaboration and talked about how we can all work together.

"We provide that really high level expertise and experience so that our consumers and patients can actually be cared for in the home, within their own environment by the non-government sector, but they have our support and they have our over-arching high-level skills so we can help them."

The Mental Illness Fellowship chief Tony Stevenson said getting everything right at the grassroots level would cut down the cost of hospital care.

It costs about $500,000 a year for someone to stay in a hospital mental health bed, but $7000 to $10,000 a year to help people manage psychological problems at home. MIF provides support to hundreds of residents across the region each week.

"On the one hand there are the clinical services that people need where they're going to get their diagnosis, their medication and their clinical regime and then there's the support that people need just to live well in the community," Mr Stevenson said.

"And if we were to increase the funding in that area we'd actually reduce the need for the acute crisis- driven services - the more expensive services."

Mental Health Review Tribunal president Barry Thomas said it was time mental health received the attention it deserved.

"Mental illness has always been the poor cousin, but over recent years it's received substantial inputs," Mr Thomas said.

"It's a serious illness that really hasn't received the recognition it deserves.

"It's not that everything needs the Rolls Royce (of funding) - we need well-targeted funds to deal with complex areas."

A spokesman for state Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the government had invested $130.35 million to progress 16 capital works projects across the state providing 259 new or upgraded beds for acute and extended stay treatment.


West Moreton

Authorised mental health services for the West Moreton region

Event: 2013-14; 2012 - 13

Sittings: 98; 85

Hearings: 680; 619

Forensic order reviews: 99; 101

Act: 22; 8

Total matters: 708; 645

West Moreton indigenous representation

Event: 2013-14; 2012 - 13

Patients: 35; 32

Hearings: 73; 68

Forensic reviews: 18; 13



2013-14 state-wide authorised mental health services

Event: 2013-14; 2012 - 13

Sittings: 1689; 1664

Hearings: 11,454; 11,343

Forensic order reviews: 12,078; 1654

Act: 528; 504

2013-14 state-wide indigenous representation

Event: 2013-14; 2012 - 13

Patients: 801; 779

Hearings: 1525; 1512

Forensic reviews: 290; 281

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