It is common for people with asthma to be helped to set up an action plan which allows them to decide when it is time to put different methods of treatment into place, depending on how they are feeling. Patients on these plans report the approach is empowering and can help prevent acute attacks.
In fact, there is a range of other chronic transient illnesses where patients get to decide when they need extra help and when they can cope with their condition unassisted.
Now West Australians with mental illness are being offered the same chance to take control of their own wellbeing thanks to a new step-up step-down sub-acute service in Joondalup called Neami.
Sub-acute services provide short-term supported residential care for people with mental illness to receive treatment as an alternative to acute hospital care.
The services enable consumers to receive the treatment they need closer to their homes, families, friends and carers, while reducing pressure on crowded hospital in-patient beds.
Ric has been living with mental illness for several years and he says the sub-acute service has not only dramatically improved his life, but it has also changed the way he views the future.
When things get difficult for him to cope with and he is living independently, he can now step up and admit himself to the subacute service instead of going to hospital. If he ever does require hospital care and needs somewhere to go as a step down on the way back to independent living, he can get the support he needs at the sub-acute service.
“I was diagnosed in 2013 but I have struggled with some things for most of my life and I didn’t realise it. At times it has been very difficult”, he said. “This service is absolutely brilliant. I can’t speak of it highly enough and the staff are just wonderful. This place is 100 per cent better than hospital.
“It has changed everything for me. Sometimes I just need some extra help and now I know it is always here and that just means so much. And when I come here, I feel like I have more power and more control. The staff here actually care about what I have to say and what I am thinking.
“It can feel like everything is going wrong and then we talk and the weight of the world is lifted from your shoulders. This place gives you the confidence to get out there and do it all on your own and that is pretty special, especially when you have never really had that in your life before.”
Neami service manager Clare Hannaway said the facility and her staff were helping people to live better lives.
Patients were accommodated in self-contained units which included a bedroom, ensuite, laundry, living room and courtyard. Kitchen facilities and television areas were common, to help encourage people to socialise.
Ms Hannaway said step-up services provided intensive treatment and support for people where an admission to hospital was not necessary, while stepdown services supported people transitioning to life in the community after a hospital stay.
Neami, which has 22 beds, opened in 2013 and since then its occupancy has increased steadily. The WA Government has plans for similar services in Rockingham, Broome, the Goldfields, Karratha and Bunbury with a total of 60 community sub-acute mental health beds planned across the State by 2017.
‘This place gives you the confidence to get out there and do it all on your own and that is pretty special, especially when you have never really had that in your life before.’
Source: The West Australian, 30/9/2015