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Liberals promise new mental health facilities

A Marshall Liberal Government will establish a separate facility for older people with severe mental health issues in each of the three metropolitan health networks.

“We will fast track the delivery of the first of the facilities to deal with the crisis in care for elderly patients with mental health issues,” said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.

“The logical site for the first of the facilities is the Repat with its history as a centre of care for vulnerable people and the ability to co-locate the facility with our plans for Ward 18.

“Under Labor, South Australia is heading for a catastrophic shortage of beds for elderly patients with mental health issues.

“Labor’s failure to deliver the desperately needed replacement for the disgraced Oakden facility has forced people with severe dementia into totally inappropriate care in mainstream nursing homes.”

In October last year, SA Health’s The Oakden Response Models of Care Project recommended that SA Health develop 84 beds for people with extreme and very severe BPSD (Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia).

Labor is only planning a single 24-bed facility and eight months after announcing it, has not even identified a site.

Rather than have a single site grow to more than 80 beds over time, the Liberal team accepts professional advice that a series of smaller facilities will lead to better health outcomes and better accessibility.

The Liberal Party’s position accords with the position of the AMA(SA) which, in relation to the Oakden response, has said:

The AMA(SA) does not support a single large facility. We support smaller sites across the health networks to reduce institutionalisation and provide training opportunities in high level mental health care.

“The Liberal Party believes that people are entitled to receive services whenever possible within their region,” said Mr Marshall.

“The closure of Oakden resulted in the loss of 62 beds for patients - so far only 16 of those beds have been replaced at Northgate.

“The Northgate facility caters for less than 10 per cent of South Australians with high levels of BPSD.

“Waiting for the Weatherill Government to fulfil its vague promise to locate, design and build an aged care facility for people with BPSD is a recipe for disaster.

“Older people with severe dementia and mental health issues are likely to receive sub-optimal care in acute mental health facilities or in mainstream nursing homes for years to come.”

The Oakden facility was the only service in South Australia providing services for people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and others needing similar care, such as those with brain damage through alcohol and drug use.

“The Liberal Party has already announced that it would look to use Ward 18 at the Repat as a site for services for South Australians with severe dementia and associated challenging behaviours,” said Steven Marshall.

“Ward 18 is a purpose-built older persons mental health facility constructed at a cost of $10 million.

“It is a valuable asset, only 10 years old, with a contemporary design so sound that the Weatherill Government is basically replicating it at the Flinders Medical Centre”.