TAKING SHAPE: Mildura Base Hospital associate director of Mental Health Services, Chris Hermans, outside the new Prevention and Recovery Care facility in Mildura. The new facility is set to be up and running next month. INSET: Inside the new facility. Photos: PAUL MENSCH


GREATER assistance will soon be available for those with mental health issues in Mildura.

A new, purpose-built 10-bed facility to help support people with a mental illness is set to open next month.

The facility will be a joint partnership between Mildura Base Hospital (MBH), who took over the building this week, and another community-based organisation that will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

The Prevention and Recovery Care (PARC) facility has been an asset 10 years in the making.

The facility will help deliver treatment for those becoming unwell due to mental illness, and for those in the early stages of recovery from an acute illness.

MBH associate director of Mental Health Services, Chris Hermans, said the new facility would provide an alternative option outside of community support, and inpatient support.

“It’s not a clinical setting like the inpatients unit, it is a residential setting where we do provide clinical ‘in-reach’,” Mr Hermans said. “It won’t be staffed by nursing staff, it will be staffed by a partnering agency and there will be someone available 24 hours each day for residents.

“There are two components to the facility; the PARC, which is for stays up to 28 days, and an extended PARC, which can be up to six months stay.

“It gives an alternative. At the moment you have community (support) or inpatient (support), and there is nowhere in between.

“This facility is both a step-up and a step-down. It can be where people have presented in crisis at the hospital but don’t need that level of acuity so they can step down from the ward.

“We’re hoping that it also gives people an opportunity to step-up from the community and miss the ward altogether.

“From consultations we had in the community, people were very hopeful it would be a need well and truly met in the community.”

The first submission for a Mildura PARC facility was made in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2012 when plans went ahead, thanks to State Government funding.

Mr Hermans said there had been a lot of input from community services over that time.

“It’s also quite fitting that David Kirby, who started this process, has come back as our director of Mental Health Services to see it all implemented,” he said.

“We’re really pleased with the aesthetics and the way it is all looking. It’s been tricky to maintain a homely environment when you have all the safety considerations that need to be met as well, but I think we haven’t done too bad of a job at getting that balance.

“It will probably take a little while for people to hear about the facility and what it is used for, but we’re really hopeful that the ‘step-up’ part of it will take off so people can come and get referred to here prior to needing admission to the inpatient unit.”

When complete, the facility will be one of 25 PARC facilities across the State.