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June 21, 2021

Lismore mental health unit to get overdue upgrade

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L to R: Christoph Groger and Alison Renwick from NNSW LHD, Lismore MP Thomas George, Dee Robinson, Heidi Keevers and Warren Shaw from NNSW LHD. Photo supplied

The NSW Government has announced a $1.2 million upgrade of Lismore Base Hospital’s mental health unit as part of a statewide program.

And while the upgrades consist mostly of the ‘refurbishment’ of existing facilities, the government says its intention is to ‘reduce, and where possible eliminate, the use of seclusion and restraint in NSW acute mental health facilities’.

The comment is a veiled reference to the death of Miriam Merten in the Lismore hospital’s mental health unit in 2014, which sparked a coronial inquiry, an independent review and a parliamentary inquiry into matter.

The hospital’s Tallowwood acute unit will receive $810,000 for refurbishing bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen facilities, lounge areas and waiting areas, as well landscaping courtyards while the Kamala unit will receive $394,000 for refurbishing bedrooms, bathrooms and the laundry, modifying the sensory room, purchasing new furniture and landscaping courtyards.

Lismore MP Thomas George (Nationals) said that ‘well-designed physical spaces in acute mental health units help dignify our mental health consumers (sic) by meeting their needs for recovery, security, and connection’.

‘The funding will create therapeutic environments to support person-centred care that responds to past trauma, focusing on individual recovery.’

Money for old Tweed hospital

The Tweed Hospital will also benefit from the government’s largesse, despite being around two years away from being permanently closed.

‘The Tweed Hospital’s Kurrajong acute unit will receive $600,000 for refurbishing wards, building a new gym, creating a sensory room, designing a media room and a quiet family room, improving activities areas, landscaping courtyards and purchasing new furniture,’ Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) said.

Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies said the ‘important improvements’ were ‘the first initiative of the NSW Government’s $700 million Mental Health Infrastructure program’.

‘This is part of the NSW Government’s long-term plan to help our mental health facilities refresh their physical environment so they support modern care models.

‘The $20 million investment is focused on delivering immediate benefits to help reduce, and where possible eliminate, the use of seclusion and restraint in NSW acute mental health facilities,’ Mrs Davies said

If you or someone you know needs crisis support please call Lifeline 13 11 14. For local mental health services phone NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511.


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