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Call For More Sub-Acute Services

Mental Health Provider Calls For More Sub-Acute Services

More professional collaboration and the development of community-based sub-acute services are the key to keeping mentally ill people out of prison cells, says a national provider of mental health services.

Questions were raised in Parliament today about the number of people being detained in the Henderson police cells due to lack of intensive care beds.

Dr Mike Reid, clinical director for The Richmond Fellowship says calls for more money and more acute beds in hospitals are looking in the wrong direction.

“Police cells are used far too often to deal with a crisis situation, but providing more hospital beds and intervention teams will not address the root cause of the problem, which is a lack of specialist community-based services,” he says. This leads to a situation described by hospitals as “bedblocking” and places patients at risk of becoming dependent on hospital-level care, resulting in further bedblocking.

“The blockages in the acute sector are compounded at the interface between community providers and the hospital sector. There have been some significant improvements in the way these two areas overlap and work together, but there’s still scope for greater collaboration and development of new recovery-based services, outside of the hospital environment, to relieve the pressure.

“We are keen to work closely with Waitemata Health and the other service purchasers to design new services and to make sure that the whole service is focused on recovery, rather than dealing with crisis are crisis.

[addressing Jane Reid’s point…]
Dr Reid says it would be a mistake to point the finger at community-based healthcare models as a whole, or to draw a line between community care and hospital-based services. “A hospital is a building with a collection of skilled staff, and so too is a community-based facility. The key is to find the right balance between these services, to focus on recovery throughout the mental system and to build a staircase of services that lead towards wellness and independence.

“That will not be achieved by parking another ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, as some centre have already discovered. In Blenheim and Timaru, for example, the mental health services have found a healthy balance, and the data coming from those areas proves that more people are making a recovery if the right type of service exists.”

Richmond Fellowship is a major provider of community mental health services throughout New Zealand. The Fellowship has developed specialist services for a range of purchasers including the Ministry of Health, Crown Public Health, and District Health Services.


Further information: Dr Mike Reid, Clinical Director
Phone 03 365 3211

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