Roadmap for specialist older persons’ mental health care

The Marshall Liberal Government has today released two reports that will pave the way for a new and improved way of caring for some of South Australia’s most vulnerable patients. 

Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the Oakden Oversight Committee report and SA Health’s response will help to ensure the systematic failings exposed at Oakden will never be repeated. 

“Today, we are outlining a roadmap for the future care and management of older people with significant dementia or complex mental health needs,” Minister Wade said. 

“Under the leadership of the Oversight Committee, six Expert Working Groups have spent almost 12 months exploring how to implement the Chief Psychiatrist’s Oakden Report recommendations and planning for a new service that treats all older people with dignity and respect. 

“Significant improvements have already been made, including commissioning Northgate House and planning for the development of a state-wide Neuro-behavioural Unit. 

Minister Wade said while the State Government supports the recommendation of 24 beds for extreme dementia, this may be in a single facility or two smaller specialist facilities with the locations yet to be determined. 

“We are committed to establishing a new unit, but rather than focussing solely on a single service at Modbury Hospital proposed by the Infrastructure/Facility Expert Working Group, we are now looking into options of establishing the service on the site of the former Repatriation Hospital,” Minister Wade said. 

“At the time of the Oakden Oversight Committee deliberations, the Repat was not considered because the former Labor Government had put it under contract for sale – but that contract has since been terminated. 

“There are challenges with the Modbury option and opportunities at both the Repat and Northgate sites. 

“Building a new older persons’ mental health facility for people with extreme behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia will be explored as part of the community and staff consultation in the development of the Master Plan for the Repat site.” 

“To address the range of issues raised in the report, SA Health will now develop a detailed implementation plan. 

“The Oakden Response Implementation Plan will outline the steps required to deliver improved Models of Care, optimum staffing models and suitable infrastructure for this specific cohort of vulnerable people.”

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Head of Unit, Older Persons’ Mental Health Service and member of the Oversight Committee, Dr Duncan McKellar, said developing the implementation plan is the next step in reforming the OPMHS. 

“We have already made significant improvements since the former Chief Psychiatrist’s initial review into Oakden,” Dr McKellar said. 

“Reforms are already in place, with a new approach to the delivery of care at Northgate House ensuring the care team work collaboratively with each family, so that residents get the personalised care that they need and deserve. 

“The implementation plan will provide clear direction and an outline of a way forward for this population group, to ensure each and every individual receives the right level of care.” 

The Oakden Response Implementation Plan will have the oversight of senior executives in SA Health, including the Chief Executive and Chief Psychiatrist, and updates will be publically reported every six months. 

To view the Oakden Oversight Committee report and SA Health’s response, go to 

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