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Tupuna Services To Cease And Sights Set On New Ways Of Working To Support Tāngata Whaiora

Dr Greg Hamilton, Canterbury General Manager Specialist Mental Health Service, Te Whatu Ora:

Following an extensive consultation process where feedback was received from 47 submitters, a decision has been made to close the small Tupuna Unit on the Hillmorton Campus.

Tupuna is currently an inpatient extended care unit which provides 24-hour care and support for people with mental health issues who require longer term inpatient stays as they prepare to return to the community.

Staff and the nine tāngata whaiora (people seeking wellness) currently receiving care and support at Tupuna have been informed of this decision. The focus is now on supporting staff to transition to new roles within the Specialist Mental Health Service and working closely with tāngata whaiora and their whānau to find alternative care and support options both in the community or in other inpatient services.

There is no fixed time-frame for tāngata whaiora to move, it will happen over coming weeks to ensure services are well matched to people’s needs.

Tupuna’s bed numbers have been reduced this year due to difficulties sustaining an appropriate staff mix in the unit. The unit currently has 13.6 FTE and has been relying on casual staff and nurses working additional duties to staff the unit. Despite staff’s best efforts we acknowledge that we haven’t able to provide consistent staffing due to workforce challenges that are impacting all our services.

Once closed, the building where Tupuna is located will be refreshed and it’s expected to be ready to accommodate up to 16 patients by the end of August 2023 in a more contemporary environment.

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What is yet to be finalised is the new model of care for acute inpatients across the continuum of adult care – this work is underway. However it’s planned that this unit will continue to be one of three inpatient facilities on the Hillmorton Campus available for those needing adult inpatient care.

The welcome news this week confirming the funding for the new adult inpatient unit (to replace the current Te Awakura unit) means planning can start on another new facility to support contemporary care on the Hillmorton Campus.

Work on Building 12, which will house adult inpatients moving from The Princess Margaret Hospital, is progressing well and on track for completion next year. These two buildings, along with Building 8 (currently housing Tupuna) will provide three facilities on the Hillmorton Campus for adult inpatients that will help transform and improve the experience of tangata whaiora receiving inpatient care.

In addition to modern fit for purpose inpatient beds, it is important that people are able to access intensive support in the community including inpatient alternative such as home-based treatment, community-based respite and peer-led alternatives. There are a number of new and developing initiatives underway to improve access to mental health and wellbeing support in the community and develop this integration including the general practice-based Te Tumu Waiora (with almost 60 FTE of health improvement practitioners, health coaches and support workers).

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