Changes to improve mental health community respite

Improvements are being made to the
management of mental health clients
requiring community respite care following
the review of a serious incident at a Whitby
respite service.
In March, a local resident who was a client at
the respite service – which is operated by
non-government organisation Pathways Ltd
– tried to abduct a child from her father.
Several neighbours restrained the client.
Capital & Coast District Health Board
commissioned a review of the circumstances
surrounding the incident. It was carried out
by independent experts, and involved DHB
staff and Pathways Ltd. The child and
client’s families, and neighbours involved in
the incident, were included in the review.
“We and Pathways took this incident
seriously and recognise its impact on the
child, client, families, neighbours and staff,”
says Mental Health, Addictions and
Intellectual Disability Service General
Manager Nigel Fairley.
“The review found that some things could
have been done better in the lead-up to the
incident, and made recommendations to help
us try to ensure it such an incident doesn’t
happen again.”
Improvements already made include
improved information-sharing so Pathways
staff are better informed about clients’ needs,
and having Crisis Resolution Service staff in
Wellington Regional Hospital’s ED to
provide faster assessment and support for
people in mental health distress.
“Other recommendations are now either
being scoped or implemented. We’re also
working to relocate the Whitby service as the
current building is not physically suitable for
some of the improvements – such as having
higher numbers of clinical staff.”
Further improvements being worked on
include a single electronic file of client
information, ensuring respite services have
better access to a trained mental health nurse
for at least eight hours a day, and improved
training and supervision for community
mental health teams