Mental health beds ‘safe’

LOBBYING: Goulburn District Unions president Anna Wurth-Crawford (left) with union rep Stewart Chapman and Federal Senator Deb O’Neill at Bourke Street Health Service in December.
Nanjing Night Net

Goulburn and District Unions (GDU) has voiced fears about the loss of mental health beds with Giles Court’s relocation to Kenmore Hospital.

The Southern NSW Local Health District announced this week that it would shift the Bourke Street Health Service’s 16-bed dementia unit and the Brain Injury Unit to the Taralga Road facility. Giles Court would be moved by Easter, with talks ongoing about the Brain Injury Unit. It comes ahead of the Health District’s complete shift of services, mostly to the redeveloped Goulburn Base Hospital.

But GDU president Anna Wurth-Crawford, a former mentalhealth worker in Goulburn, said staff at Kenmore had “no idea about the move.”

“Relatives (of Giles Court residents) are (also) very upset about it because they have further to travel and it isn’t central to town,” she said.

More importantly, she feared the loss of mentalhealth beds at Kenmore. The Hemmings Centre has 22 beds, currently at one-third capacity, and the Morgan Centre, 22 beds, with halfcurrently used. The Morgan Centre will accommodate Giles Court.

Mrs Wurth-Crawford said the Hemmings unit was a valuable rehabilitative outlet, including four cottages, for people with severe mentalillness, learning how to transition back to society.

She claimed clientsat Giles Court and the Brain Injury Unit were notassessed as patients under the NSW Mental Health Act. She believed this would have implications for the number of mentalhealth beds available at Kenmore.

But the Health District on Thursday “assured” the community there would be no loss of service, beds or staff through the move.

“The relocation will streamline and improve the quality of care to patients by having all clinicians, health staff and patients located on the one campus,” a spokesman said.

He said there were currently five patients in Giles Court, which was a Transitional Behavioural Assessment and Intervention Service. Further, it had not attracted full occupancy for “many years.”

“T-BASIS treatment is focused on specialist assessment and reduction of clinical and behavioural symptoms to enable aged patients to be transferred home, or to appropriate community residential support services,” he said.

With the move of 20 long-stay Morgan Centre patients into the community three years ago, 16 of the 32 beds had been temporarily closed. Available beds would meet the demand, plus accommodate Giles Court patients.

The Health District did not address The Post’s question regarding Giles Court’s patients’ classification under the Mental Health Act.

The spokesman said the Giles Court move had been under consideration for severalyears and planning started “well before the NSW Government announced funding for the Base Hospital and Health Service’s redevelopment.

“The move is independent but complementary to the redevelopment plans and the future requirement to relocate services currently provided at the nearby Bourke Street Health campus,” he said.

“Discussions about the potential relocation of the Brain Injury Unit are ongoing and no decision about itwill be made until consultations with staff and the community are given consideration.”

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