In this difficult environment we responded swiftly to community needs; delivering food and supplies to people in lockdown; demonstrating agility through rapidly developing innovative on-line groups; efficiently managing the transition to a new normal; all delivered by staff working from home in line with state guidelines.
Within the constraints of physical distancing, we prioritized the health and safety of consumers and staff. We saw that our role in holding hope, managing uncertainty and keeping connected was critical in sustaining positive wellbeing for the people who use our services. When surveyed, we received overwhelmingly positive feedback from service users about the quality of our support throughout this period.
In direct response to COVID-19, we saw Me Well’s NDIS and Neami’s PSS teams working with consumers during the public housing lockdown in Melbourne’s inner-west. Towards Home+ swiftly supported rough sleepers to access safe temporary accommodation in Geelong and the Southern suburbs.
This year we began some new and exciting initiatives in Victoria. Partners in Wellbeing (PIW) was launched as a new COVID specific response in partnership with EACH and ACSO. PIW is now offering extended hours of service provision to the general Victorian community as well as support for armed forces veterans from people with veteran lived experience. PIW is also providing support to small business owners and their families. Furthermore, PIW have recruited an engagement coordinator to enhance our support to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Through Integrated Chronic Care and Physical Health Initiative, we developed ways to integrate the importance of people with mental health issues addressing their physical health by combining psychosocial support with health-related nursing. Providing opportunities for the people we support to access a GP and develop the confidence to manage their health has been a long-standing and critical component of our services. These new programs with nursing staff as part of the team are a further evolution of our approach.
Our work in supporting people to find and maintain sustainable housing continues in Geelong, Metro Melbourne and the Southern suburbs. Our multi-disciplinary teams combine an assertive outreach approach with the best available pathways to housing, followed-up with ongoing wrap-around support.
It is our understanding of working with complexity that has shaped our suicide prevention service. With a whole of community approach, LifeConnect provides aftercare and bereavement support and community education. The last year has enabled us to develop strong connections to address this complex issue and support crisis moments within communities in Eastern Melbourne. LifeConnect is one of many programs that have evolved from our strong relationship with Eastern Melbourne PHN. We are encouraged that our shared values are leading to a network of support across the spectrum of needs.
This year saw the conclusion of several programs. Towards Home program in Brighton and Reservoir reached completion with incredible outcomes. Residents who were previously rough sleepers, were housed for two years with onsite support, then successfully transitioned into permanent, sustainable housing. This program was delivered through a collaborative partnership with Launch Housing. We transitioned out of the Northern Prevention and Recovery Care Service (NPARCS) in June. Since its inauguration in 2010, Neami shared a successful partnership with the Northern Area Mental Health Service in operating NPARCS. We have been privileged to be part of the positive outcomes of this collaborative, evidence-based service. Steps to Wellbeing successful completed delivering individually tailored, short-term coaching sessions to help build resilience and wellbeing.
Towards Home+ is still supporting people to find and maintain sustainable housing. Our multi-disciplinary teams combine an assertive outreach approach with the best available pathways to housing, followed-up with ongoing wrap-around support.
We continue to offer Psychosocial Support Services funded by the PHNs in the east, north-east and north-west of Melbourne. Tailored to reduce unmet needs for people with severe mental illness, the programs are for people who benefit from psychosocial support through a blended approach of outreach and group programs.
Our Youth Residential Rehabilitation programs in the south and east continued to flourish and provide young people with individual and group support through a co-designed Youth Model of Care with recovery-oriented outcome measures.
Our work in recovery-orientated clinical services with our youth-focused YFlex continues to meet the high demand in Whittlesea and surrounds. The clinically qualified team with a recovery-focused assertive approach has filled what was a large gap in supports for young people in this area.
The future for mental health services in Victoria looks exciting, and in this rapidly changing landscape we are eagerly awaiting the results from both the Productivity Commission and the Royal Commission into Mental Health as well as the opportunities that will come from the Victorian Government’s investment into social housing.