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New Mental Health Service in Murrumbidgee helps to bring back some old fashioned care

Foundation staff meet with doctors and staff at Ochre Health in Deniliquin to provide information about the new services available to the community.

A team from the Healthy Communities Foundation Australia (the Foundation) met with local doctors, health staff and community members in Deniliquin this week to announce the addition of a new suicide prevention service.

The Foundation delivers a range of integrated health care support services in the Murrumbidgee including: a GP-After Hours services on behalf of the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (PHN) through its HealhAccess Program; the Healthy Life GP Remote Medical Consultation Service program in collaboration with the Murrumbidgee Local Health District; and, Healthy Ageing program in collaboration with participating aged care facilities in the region.

The Foundation's HealthAccess GP After Hours Program will be extended until mid-2024 following a highly successful trial over the last 12 months, helping to address ongoing GP shortages and the impact this is having on public hospitals.

Foundation CEO Mark Burdack said: "It has been great working with the Murrumbidgee community, and their PHN and Local Health District, to expand access to health care for local residents.

"We work nationally with health systems around the country, so we get to see up close where things are being done really well. No health system is perfect, but Murrumbidgee is one of the stand-out regions in Australia because of its people-centred approach to care" said Mr Burdack.

The Foundation also announced that it is expanding its services in Murrumbidgee to incorporate suicide prevention mental health support through its Healthy Minds program.

"The goal of the Foundation is to help rural, remote and other disadvantaged communities to get back to a more cooperative and integrated health care system. The more specialised our health system has become, the less effective it is and the more it costs.

"As a charity what we try to do is help rural and remote communities to develop integrated and multidisciplinary primary care models that improve access to holistic, people-centred and integrated health care at every life stage. In 2022 we adopted the World Health Organization's evidence-based recommendation to restructure our systems around a life course approach and the delivery of people-centred care.

"We are now able to offer communities after-hours access to GPs who know the region, support to help communities lead and run local health clinics, access to local nurse practitioners who can attend to procedural care in a nursing home, mental health nurses who can provide counselling, Aboriginal Health Workers who can provide culturally appropriate and inclusive care, and allied health assistants to deliver treatments under supervision for a qualified professional.

"We start with one service and then add another, and another and another until we are able to provide the wrap around care that people once took for granted" said Mr Burdack.



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