Community living made easier for mental health patients

The Pathways to Community Living Initiative team accept their 2020 Quality Award from WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy and clinical governance director Carol Farmer.

A program to help mental health patients get back into the community recently won the Delivering Integrated Care category at the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Quality Awards 2020.

On October 14 the project was also announced as a finalist in the 2020 NSW Premier’s Awards in the category of Tackling Longstanding Social Challenges.

People living with severe and persistent mental illnesses, such as schizophreia, may require lengthy stays in hospital to help get their condition and treatment under control.

The program called Pathways to Community Living Initiative (PCLI) gives people who have been in hospital for 12 months or more the support they need to transition back to living in the community.

It was established in January 2016 and so far has helped 120 people move out of hospital.

WSLHD Community Mental Health director and project executive lead Carolyn Fozzard said the program places the quality of life, unique needs and wishes of mental health consumers at the forefront.

“Traditionally people thought that for some mental health patients, hospital was the best place for them to stay. However, we have been able to see a real culture and belief shift that hospital should never be considered someone’s home, and everybody deserves the opportunity to live meaningful lives in the community,” Carolyn said

“It’s vital that people who have severe and persistent mental illnesses are given the best possible opportunity to live out of hospital and contribute to society in a positive way.

Carolyn Fozzard (centre) said the program reflects an attitude shift that is about empowering mental health consumers to live their best life in the community.

“This program has improved collaboration between senior mental health clinicians, inpatient and community teams and improved our partnerships with the National Disability Insurance Scheme and residential aged care services.”

This initiative was a recommendation from the NSW Government’s Mental Health Reform 2014-2024, which aims to reduce the number of people residing in mental health facilities beyond the point at which they needed to be there.

The benefits of this program also allows patients to be involved in the decision making process and setting their own goals for community living.

Pathways to Community Living Initiative program manager Luisa Albornoz.

The PCLI project is coordinated by program manager Luisa Albornoz, executive lead Carolyn Fozzard, WSLHD Rehabilitation and Recovery Services clinical director Dr Pradeep Jarabandahalli, senior clinicians Milu Francis, Brendan Little, Emma Seekings, Nidhi Sharma, Monitata Luani, Danica Mackay, staff specialist Dr Varun Kumar, older persons manager Suman Tyagi, peer worker Bharat Nepal, neuropsychologists Alena Rahmanovic and Benjamin Leslie, Blacktown Assertive Response Team leader Runa Aman and Granville Assertive Response Team leader Kav Khurana.

The WSLHD Quality Awards 2020 broadcast (42-minute duration) can be viewed by clicking here.

The NSW Premier’s Awards celebrate excellence in the delivery of public services to the NSW community by the public sector, not for profit organisations and private businesses.

Winners of the 2020 NSW Premier’s Awards will be announced at an online awards ceremony on Wednesday 4 November 2020 from 4pm. For the full list of finalists –  and details about these innovative teams, individuals and projects – please visit the NSW Premier’s Awards website.

Stay tuned to The Pulse for more information!