Liberal Leader Steven Marshall argues that South Australia is heading for a “catastrophic shortage” of mental health aged care beds.
He argues that the Northgate aged care facility, set up as a replacement for the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service, was an inadequate solution.
“The closure of Oakden resulted in the loss of 62 beds for patients – so far only 16 of those beds have been replaced at Northgate,” he said.
“The Northgate facility caters for less than 10 per cent of South Australians with high levels of BPSD (Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia.
“Waiting for the Weatherill Government to fulfil its vague promise to locate, design and build an aged care facility for people with BPSD is a recipe for disaster.
“Older people with severe dementia and mental health issues are likely to receive sub-optimal care in acute mental health facilities or in mainstream nursing homes for years to come.”
He said a Liberal Government would establish older persons’ mental health facilities within each of the three Adelaide metropolitan health networks.
“The logical site for the first of the facilities is the Repat with its history as a centre of care for vulnerable people and the ability to co-locate the facility with our plans for Ward 18,” he said.
“Labor’s failure to deliver the desperately needed replacement for the disgraced Oakden facility has forced people with severe dementia into totally inappropriate care in mainstream nursing homes.”
The Australian Medical Association’s state election priorities document says that it “does not support a single large facility” for older persons’ mental health.
“We support smaller sites across the health networks to reduce institutionalisation and provide training opportunities in high level mental health care.”
The State Government closed the Repat last year in favour of new rehabilitation facilities connected to metropolitan hospitals.
Earlier this week, Labor promised some extra funding for mental health services, including community outreach services.
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