Mental Health Co-Responder program extended

An innovative program partnering specialist mental health staff with paramedics has helped divert two-thirds of call outs away from busy emergency departments to more appropriate care.

It has just been extended for a further six months.

Since the end of January, the Mental Health Co-Responder (MH CORE) team have responded to 139 consumers, of which two out of three people were able to be supported by receiving care in the community.

Without the intervention, 89 of the patients would have been transported to the ED unnecessarily.

The program is a collaboration between Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) and SA Ambulance Service (SAAS).

“Patients often become distressed being in a busy and noisy environment such as a hospital emergency department,” Central Adelaide Local Health Network Mental Health Nursing Lead, Lesley Legg, said.

“By responding with the right specialist care we are able to deliver a better service to consumers with mental health conditions in the community.

“If a consumer can be diverted away from an emergency department towards more appropriate care in the community, that is a great outcome for the patient.

“The feedback we’ve received from consumers is that they felt that the MH CORE service improved their quality of their care

“In addition, the Co-Responder team has increased the use of community based referrals and services providing consumers the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

Of the 50 consumers taken to hospital during this period, 26 required admission to a mental health ward.

The Co-Responder service monitors also for re-presentation within 48 hours to an ED or ambulance call out, and during this period 11 per cent re-presented.

MH CORE operates in the CALHN catchment in metropolitan Adelaide between 1-8pm Monday to Friday.