COPES (Carers Offering Peers Early Support)

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By April 17, 2015 No Comments

Authors: Eastern Health Mental Health Program and Eastern Access Community Health

Year: 2002

Event: 2002 TheMHS Awards


Type of resource: TheMHS Awards

Award state: VIC

Award level: Gold

Award category: Consumer/ Carer Program or service

Abstract: The Carers Offering Peers Early Support (COPES) program of Eastern Health and EACH is an innovative collaborative program where carers, for the first time, have been employed in paid positions located within a mental health service. Since August 1999 the two part time workers have assisted over 500 family carers to make sense of the traumatic impact of mental illness on the family and to navigate the service system. The majority of carers, who have used the service, when surveyed, rated COPES as ‘extremely helpful’ or ‘very helpful’. In response to both carer and worker demand, the program has been extended from the Adult Inpatient Unit to the following locations: ? Two Community Mental Health Centres ? The peak Psychiatric Disability Support Service for the region located on the rural border The program has a unique feature of the COPES workers being employed under the local Community Health Service, which affords greater transparency and advocacy opportunities. Since its inception, COPES has inspired the development of at least eight other programs across Australia where carers are employed within a mental health service. Description of Facility/Organisation: The Eastern Health Mental Health Program was formed in February 2001 and comprises Child & Adolescent Services, the Outer East and Central East Adult Area Mental Health Services, Aged Mental Health Services, Spectrum and ASIST State-wide Services and ACCESS Alcohol and Drug Services. The program has an overall EFT of over 350 staff and an operating budget of 40 million. Funding is predominately provided by the Mental Health Branch of the Victorian Department of Human Services. Services are located over 16 sites with the majority being community based. The Outer East Adult Mental Health Service is located in outer eastern Melbourne, covering four metropolitan municipalities and two rural shires, comprising 800 square kilometres. Services delivered include an Enhanced Crisis Assessment and Treatment Service, a 28 bed Adult Inpatient Unit, two Community Mental Health Services, a Mobile Support and Treatment Service, a Community Care Unit, Consumer Consultant Service and three specialist family/carer programs – Parents in Partnership, the Carers Project and COPES. COPES is governed by a collaborative partnership between Eastern Health Mental Health Program and Eastern Access Community Health. Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) is a generic Community Health Service located in Melbourne’s outer east, and auspices the peak Psychiatric Disability Support Services of the region, including three-day programs, accommodation, employment and a community based leisure support program. EACH also includes a range of primary care services such as counselling, allied health therapies, childcare, as well as gambling support and drug and alcohol support program.

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