Queensland Health is establishing three purpose-built, 10 bed adult mental health step-up step-down (SUSD) facilities in Bundaberg, Gladstone and Mackay. SUSD services are sub-acute mental health services delivered in a community setting through a partnership between clinical and community support services.
A SUSD facility provides a short term (up to 28 days) 24-hour residential service for adults aged 18-64 years living in the specific locality and surrounding areas, and who are experiencing severe and complex mental illness. The service offers flexible, recovery focused care closer to home and to family and friends who can offer support. They provide opportunities for skill development, enhanced social relationships, and community access.
People that use SUSD may be transitioning from an acute hospital setting back into the community (step down) or may already reside in the community and would benefit from some additional support to prevent a hospital admission (step up). SUSD are designed to improve mental health outcomes of people with severe mental illness who become unwell and to prevent avoidable admissions to acute units or re-admissions following an acute episode.
There are similar facilities being established in and around Brisbane and an established SUSD service in Cairns has been operating successfully for the past two years. While the SUSD model is relatively new to Queensland, SUSD facilities are well established in other states such as Victoria. Evaluation of the SUSD services in Victoria (known as Prevention and Recovery Care or PARC services) in 2015 noted that PARC consumers’ mental health improved significantly during the treatment period with better mental health at discharge than admission.
The new SUSD services are a key platform for mental health reform in Queensland; promoting both recovery and positive psychological approaches and partnerships between clinical and community sectors. SUSD services support a key direction under ‘Connecting Care to Recovery 2016-2021: A plan for Queensland’s state funded mental health, alcohol and other drug services’ to provide care as close to a person’s home and community as practicable; expanding the range of service models across the continuum of care.
The $12 million (capital) project is part of the Significant Regional Infrastructure Project Program. Construction of the facilities is expected to begin by the end of 2017.