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A new model of care for mental health and addictions crisis support, which would keep care local, has been developed for the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago districts.
The draft model, which resulted from last year’s Southern District Health Board-commissioned Time For Change Te Hurihanga review, will provide several crisis response options for adults requiring an alternative to an acute inpatient setting.
Options include appropriately qualified staff monitoring and supporting a person in crisis in their own home, or providing short-term care in a dedicated respite facility.
The service is designed to work alongside specialist mental health teams, locally based community agencies, and primary care providers in the district.
"Mental health status has been deteriorating for a number of years, especially since the impact of Covid," Mr Light said.
"Any additional support is very much welcomed, albeit somewhat a bit late ... It will be really, really welcomed, as long as it is resourced properly and managed properly."
Under the draft model, the person in crisis would be referred by a phone call — either made by themselves or someone concerned about them — and their level of acuity would be determined.
Then, an on-call team would arrange for the person to attend an assessment location, and a care and treatment plan would start.
The person would then either go home, or to overnight respite, where there would be more assessments to see if hospital care was needed. If it was, they would go to Dunedin, Southland, or another rural hospital for inpatient services.
The final stage would be a follow-up, discharge planning and outreach care.
The model had been developed with the support of Queenstown-based Mana Tahuna and Alexandra-based Uruuruwhenua in alignment with the health and disability sector’s aim to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities for Maori.
The approach was to help whanau connection, support and involvement while adhering to the values of Te Whare Tapa Wha: physical, spiritual, family and mental health.
Mr Light said the focus on home-based care was positive and might mean people in crisis would not have to travel as much for inpatient services.
"If I was going to surmise it, it’d be local people accessing local services in our local community.
"We know people get better when they’re at home ... We don’t want people to travel ... for service and support — it should be available here."
Mr Light said staffing could be a challenge, but he still had high hopes for the service.
"If the resources are right from the new health authority [Health NZ], and the resources are put in to delivery, not bureaucracy, then hopefully we can see some changes."
The health board was requesting proposals from interested parties to operate the service by July 21.