A NEW facility is in the works for Bendigo, aimed at helping people struggling with both mental health and substance abuse issues.
But Bendigo Health might have to sub-contract staff to run it, the executive director of psychiatric services said.
Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, is expected to announce 100 extra drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation beds to be rolled out statewide in the next six months.
Eight of those beds will be based at Bendigo Health – the only regional health care service to expand capacity as part of the $53 million investment.
Bendigo Health will use its $8.5 million share of the funding to open a facility at Vahland House.
Psychiatric services executive director, Associate Professor Phil Tune, said the facility would address a gap in services.
“Patients who have both serious psychiatric illness and serious difficulty with substance dependence and abuse often fall between the cracks,” he said.
“It’s been a real difficulty for this patient group.”
He said services comparable to those to be offered at the facility were not existing in the community.
“To get this sort of service, people have to travel,” Dr Tune said.
He believed minimal work would be needed to repurpose Vahland House, which is presently home to Bendigo Health’s Extended Care Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit.
“The only obstacle, really, will be the question of staffing,” Dr Tune said.
Efforts to refine the model of staffing to be employed at Bendigo Health’s new facility are underway.
The state government is expected to announce eight new residential rehabilitation beds for Bendigo Health today, as part of a statewide expansion of drug and alcohol services.
All 100 of the beds are to be established by March.
Dr Tune said Bendigo Health was in discussions with the government about the staffing model.
“There are a couple of possibilities,” Dr Tune said.
“One is that we could subcontract to staff with specific expertise in the area.”
The new facility is expected to be staffed by a range of employees.
“We haven’t formalised the model yet,” Dr Tune said.
The government is understood to be working closely with Bendigo Health to confirm the workforce needed for the new facility.
The Bendigo Advertiser understands the government to be offering targeted recruitment support to identify appropriately skilled staff, including social workers, counsellors and nurses.
Dr Tune last month spoke of difficulties recruiting staff for Bendigo Health’s psychiatric services.
An estimated 144 full time equivalent staff will be required to open all the psychiatric beds at the new hospital.
Dr Tune said the approximate number of staff employed in inpatient psychiatric units prior to the shift was 99 full time equivalent employees.
Staffing has delayed the extended care unit’s transfer from Vahland House to the new hospital.
Dr Tune expected the shift to be complete by early December, clearing the way for the new facility.
A 12-bed community care unit will remain at the site.
Dr Tune dubbed the eight new beds “another great development for Bendigo” and welcomed the government’s investment.
“I have no doubt it will be a well-used facility,” he said.
Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, said the 100 new beds would deliver help to more than 400 additional people every year.
“We’re doubling the number of rehab beds in Victoria,” he said.