How to Make Mental Health “Core Business” in Emergency Departments
First implemented in 2012, the intervention involves locating an extended hours Mental Health Liaison Nursing service within the Department in order to engage with mental health patients “as close to the front door of the ED as possible.”
Based on success at RPAH, NSW Health invited the research team to undertake a 12-month trial of the model of care in divergent ED settings elsewhere in NSW. This mixed-methods translational research study involved implementation and evaluation at a rural hospital and a regional base hospital as well as a re-evaluation of service at RPAH.
The study showed that across all sites mental health patients were seen more promptly, there was a low admission rate and a reduction in ED length of stay, minimal “did not wait” incidents and more effective follow-up.
Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Timothy Wand, said the study concluded that the model of care can be successfully transferred to rural and regional contexts. For the model to be successful in other settings, however, it must adhere to certain key principles, and be adequately resourced in order to be sustainable.
“What it requires is that EDs acknowledge that mental health, drug health and other associated behavioural problems are part of their core business,” he said. “We’ve realized that the culture and the way of thinking and practicing that we developed at RPA is quite unique.”