Barwon Mental Health, Drugs and Alcohol Service.

Victoria’s alcohol and other drug sector has undergone major change. The changes are consistent with directions set by the Victorian Government in New directions for alcohol and drug treatment services: A framework for reform (August 2013), its response to recommendations of the Victorian Auditor-General Office’s review of the alcohol and drug service system in 2011 and feedback from clients, families, carers and service providers. Outpatient services have been subject to recommissioning within a framework that introduced major changes to service types and ways of operating, along with an emphasis on local service networks.

Barwon Mental Health Drugs and Alcohol Service is the primary mental health and drug and alcohol service for the Barwon Region covering a population of around 360,000 people.  Barwon Mental Health Drugs and Alcohol Service successfully tendered for the entire regions Intake and Assessment function of the reforms and are partnered with the Barwon AOD Consortia to provide treatment services.

Luke Lindsay

In May 2014 Barwon Mental Health Drugs and Alcohol Service established ‘The Access Team’ to provide 24/7 single point entry for all mental health and AOD intake and assessment services in response to both the Victorian alcohol and other drug sector reforms and a local evaluation project designed to improve access for consumers and carers.

The Access Team now provides Victoria’s only fully integrated mental health and drugs and alcohol intake and assessment service.  A single point entry service delivered through the Area Mental Health Service providing comprehensive mental health and drugs and alcohol intake and assessment.  Barwon Mental Health Drugs and Alcohol Service’s robust partnership with our treatment provider consortia allows for streamlined consumer transition from intake to assessment and through to treatment.

The Access Team identified a high DNA rate of consumers who fell out of treatment between the intake and assessment phase due to high wait lists (approximately 56%).  Our objectives were:

  • To reduce the DNA rate of AOD assessments and better utilize clinical time.
  • To offer a more timely intervention and service to AOD consumers at the point of referral.
  • To reduce the length of time AOD consumers have to wait for AOD assessments and intervention.
  • To be able to provide a higher volume of face to face AOD assessments.
  • To increase the volume of AOD referrals made to AOD Treatment agencies with the Barwon Consortia.
  • To increase capacity to meet Activity Based Funded AOD DTAU’s for Intake & Assessment.
  • To measure consumer and staff satisfaction ratings throughout process.

Locally we made significant operational changes to our rostering and ceased our appointment booking system, offering a ‘walk in’ clinic post intake.  This has resulted in a significant reduction of our DNA rates and an increase in consumers who have successfully transitioned through intake to assessment and on to treatment with both AOD treatment agencies and mental health treatment services or both.  These positive changes have been echoed through a standardised consumer satisfaction survey completed by all consumers who have accessed AOD assessment.

  • After six months we have achieved 35% reduction in AOD assessment DNA rates.
  • 75% reduction in waiting time between point of Intake and Assessment.
  • 44% increase in number of AOD Assessments completed per month.
  • 46% increase in number of AOD referrals made to AOD Treatment Agencies.
  • Overall Consumer satisfaction survey results of 4.6 out of 5 for satisfaction with trial.

Luke Lindsay
Manager, Acute Care. Gold Coast Mental Health & Specialist Services.

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