Authors: Southern Area Mental Health Service
Event: 2003 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: NSW
Award level: Winner
Award category: Quality Improvement Programs or Strategies
Abstract: The 1997 National Mental Health Strategy Evaluation – Final Report states that “Research evidence indicates that there is a greater prospect for maximal recovery and less dependence on long term system support when consumers and carers are included as genuine and respected partners in the treatment process”. Therefore, in order to achieve improved outcomes and improved consumer satisfaction, consumers and carers need to be given more power in the entire process to determine the boundaries of what they consider to be relevant goals and must be able to influence the ways in which these goals are met. It is believed that by directly engaging consumers in the various forms of quality control and assurance by “asking the customer” there is the potential to “shape” and organise the transformation of Mental Health Services in a helpful and focused way. This project is an innovative action research study that genuinely aims to put in place practices which allow ‘consumers to have a key role in planning and evaluating services and in influencing how their service needs are met’. (Second National Mental Health Plan 1998) Description of Facility/Organisation: The Southern Area Mental Health Service covers a total area of 51,214 square kilometers in the south east corner of NSW and has a population of approximately 192,000. The services provided include a 20-bed inpatient unit, Adult extended/forensic care inpatient services (22 gazetted beds), Adult Community Mental Health Teams (these teams also provide a 24hr crisis service), Aged Care Teams, Child and Adolescent Teams and have a total of approximately 275 staff. The current active number of clients is estimated between 12 to 15 hundred. Limited additional resources were required to establish this project however funding for a p/t project officer was obtained from the NSW Centre for Mental Health.