Illawarra mental health units will have around-the-clock supervision as well as targets to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint under sweeping new measures.
The NSW Government plan announced on Friday will also include mandatory public reporting of seclusion and restraint rates and more training of frontline staff.
It comes after a comprehensive review of the state’s public mental health services, which was sparked after horrific footage emerged of a patient’s final days at Lismore Base Hospital’s mental health unit in 2014.
Observation practices at Shellharbour Hospital’s mental health facilities have also come under scrutiny in recent years. In July 2014 a patient was killed by another patient at the Eloura West unit.
NSW chief psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright toured Shellharbour and Wollongong hospital’s mental health facilities – and spoke to staff and patients – as part of the wide-ranging review.
Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies and Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the plan outlines 27 actions to address all 19 recommendations from the review.
“This plan will help ensure frontline staff provide the very best for mental health patients – with dignity, empowerment and respect at the forefront of their care,” Mrs Davies said.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) mental health director Julie Carter said the district would join every other health network in NSW in developing a “localised culturally appropriate seclusion and restraint prevention action plan” to implement the recommendations.
“ISLHD is committed to preventing the seclusion and restraint of local patients within our area,” she said.
“To achieve this, we are partnering with our local community, from consumers, carers, families, and staff to build and deliver an action plan that will deliver a safe and quality service.
“This is our chance to make sure we respond in ways that meet our local needs.”
Ms Carter encouraged community members who wanted to be involved in the design of the district’s seclusion and restraint prevention plan to visit www.islhd.health.nsw.gov.au/preventing.asp
The NSW Government has also committed an initial $20 million to improve the therapeutic environment inside acute mental health units across the state.
Mr Hazzard said: “People living with mental illness, and their families and carers, deserve and need to have complete confidence in the NSW health system.”
He said implementation of action items had already begun with all items expected to be complete by July 2019. To view the plan visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth.