Stronger support for older people

In recognition of the needs of older people with mental illness, SA Health has developed an older persons’ mental health future service model.

The new developments for older people with mental illness are in keeping with the Social Inclusion Board’s recommendations. These recommendations relate to partnering with the Australian Government and residential aged-care facility providers for future inpatient non-acute care and an emphasis on early intervention with community teams at the centre of care.

Non-government residential aged care facility providers will be contracted to operate in partnership with the state government concerning a number of new specialist care units in the metropolitan area.

These are:

  • Transitional Care Units (TCUs): For both step-down from acute and step-up from the community or residential aged care facilities, with an average length of stay between three and six months.
  • Intensive Care Behavioural Units (ICBUs): For step-down admissions from TCUs with an average length of stay of 18 months or for as long as is needed.

These specialist facilities will manage older people experiencing episodes of mental illness or severe behaviour problems associated with dementia, with input and support from older persons’ mental health services. Consultations are underway with the Australian Government, interested non government residential aged care facility providers and older person's mental health staff.

As these specialist facilities are being developed, the older persons’ mental health services community teams will be significantly expanded over the next four years. This expansion will increase support to the residential aged care sector providers and increase early intervention with community teams being at the centre of care.

The strengthening of early intervention coupled with the increase to community in-reach services will mean that South Australia will be among the leaders of this type of service to older people with a mental illness in Australia.

In addition to these reforms, the development of new acute units for older persons in general hospitals include:

  • In late 2006 the new state-of-the-art 30-bed acute ward opened at the Repatriation General Hospital.
  • In late 2009 the new 20 bed acute unit opened at the Lyell McEwin Hospital.
  • A new 20 bed acute ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is scheduled to be opened in 2012.

This will result in improvements for consumers during inpatient stays as:

  • they will be closer to their relatives and families
  • it will assist in reducing stigma associated with their illness, and
  • they will have improved access to the services provided by the general hospital.

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