Safe Space supports patients in distress

A new crisis support service is providing vital aid to patients who present to hospital emergency departments in mental health distress.

The Safe Space at The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH), allows patients with mental health concerns to be triaged into a separate area and paired with a Peer Assistant with a lived experience of mental illness, as well as a clinical staff member, where the team can de-escalate the situation and minimise unnecessary time spent in the Emergency Department (ED).

Patients and health professional in Safe SpaceTPCH Mental Health Operations Director Dr Senthil Muthuswamy said it was not uncommon for those experiencing mental health concerns to find the ED environment unsuitable.

“It is widely recognised that a high stimulus ED environment with lots of noise and activity is not the most ideal place for patients with acute mental health concerns. Staff in the Emergency Department are often having to manage multiple critical presentations including trauma, stroke and heart attacks,” Dr Muthuswamy said.

“Those with mental health issues may have to wait for a long time for someone to see them, while experiencing feelings of heightened anxiety and hopelessness, when we know they will benefit from talking to someone quickly.”

The Safe Space provides a warm non-clinical environment for patients to receive support. Being able to relate and talk to peer workers – people with their own lived experienced of mental ill health and recovery, builds a stronger sense of connection and safety.

Using a range of supports including sensory techniques, reflective listening, and referrals to community services, accompanied by access to mental health clinical support, the team can partner with consumers to overcome their immediate distress and discover a path to recovery.

“The Safe Space model provides a valuable alternative care pathway for people who present to our hospital in mental distress or crisis,” Dr Muthuswamy said.

“It means people who are in a vulnerable state can quickly receive the support they need in a comfortable and safe environment.”

Since Safe Space commenced in early 2021, it has seen over 90 per cent of service users transition back home as well as a steady increase in the number of people using the service.

The value of the service is highlighted in anecdotal feedback from consumers:

“I have no words with how much safe space helped me tonight. I have BPD (Bi-Polar Disorder) and the staff helped me and my sister who has been supporting me so much.”

“I found the room layout very comfortable and inviting. I spent the whole time in the hug chair (amazing) while chatting with the peer workers who were quite in tune with my needs and made my time healing and safe. I also left with a lot of community support options, and information.  It made my stay healing and I felt cared for.”

2023-02-08T11:41:01+10:003 February 2023|
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