Blog

A new way forward for private mental health in WA

Tuesday August 4, 2020

Dr Neale Fong, Chief Executive Officer, Bethesda Health Care

Continuity of patient care is an issue that plagues public and private mental health systems, both in Western Australia and internationally. The dominance of hospital-centred care in the private sector as the standard model of care has led to a narrow treatment approach. There are, of course, great examples of multidisciplinary mental health, but in a time when mental health and substance abuse disorders represent such a high burden of disease in Australia, the time has come for exploring new ways of doing things.

Our approach to care for mental ill-health in private and public mental health services can be done better. Health insurance funds as partners in private healthcare also have an important role here, as good and effective mental healthcare needs to look beyond just facilities (traditional brick and mortar and hospitals), to true integration with carers and primary and community care providers with accompanying payment models.

The system is not entirely broken, but there is much room for improvement. Patients are let down when precedence is given to inpatient care over a broader model of care. This is counter to a number of government reports, which had a key message that the future of healthcare be provided closer to home, through partnerships and in the community.

Society is looking to move away from the traditional means of care toward integrated services that provide the consumer choice in the right care, in the right place and at the right time.

The recently announced Bethesda Cockburn Mental Health Service is hoping to forge a new way for private mental healthcare in WA. Importantly, the facility will be the first private mental health service south of the river, providing care closer to home for Perth’s southern suburbs and WA’s southern regions.

The Cockburn facility will showcase an innovative system of care, combining traditional inpatient and onsite services, whilst harnessing a new digital health environment to support seamless, convenient, timely and expert care.

Bethesda’s Cockburn Mental Health Service is being developed around a partnership model, bringing together organisations and professionals who are committed to the recovery model of care. The recovery model empowers the individual and includes them in their own healing process, assisting patients to lead purposeful, meaningful lives contributing positively to society.

Community care is a huge part of our mission at Bethesda and community partnerships will be integral to the success of our new venture.

Bethesda’s Cockburn Mental Health Service Stage 1 will have 45 overnight beds, a mental health and wellness centre, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and consulting suites, creating up to 100 jobs. Situated on 10,000m² in the Cockburn Central West precinct, patients will have easy access to public transport, the Kwinana Freeway, North Lake Road, Armadale Road, with ample onsite parking.

The facility will initially focus on voluntary adult patient admissions. Silver Thomas Hanley Architects have been awarded the Lead Design contract, having previously worked on a number of mental health facilities in WA. The Bethesda Cockburn Mental Health Service is due to admit patients around the end of July 2022. Psychiatrists, psychologists, nursing, allied health and support staff are being assembled as we speak, and all enquiries can be sent to cockburnmhs@bethesda.org.au.