New Psychiatric Unit first of its kind in Cape Winelands District
The Cape Winelands District is now home to a fully functional Psychiatric Unit, which is the first of its kind for the region. The newly constructed unit, located at Paarl Hospital, was officially inaugurated by the Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo on Monday, 29 August 2016.
Addressing dignitaries and guests attending the unit’s official opening ceremony, Mbombo notes that human rights, aspects of quality care, and access to community living, play a pivotal role in the development and wellbeing of all mental health clients.
“In order to sustain dignity in mental health, one of the key legislative imperatives of the Western Cape Government Health, Healthcare 2030: The Road to Wellness, mandates the cultivation and promotion of high standards of care and best practice in the delivery of mental health services,
“The new Psychiatric Unit is a prime example of the Department’s efforts to improve access and service delivery for mental healthcare users in the Cape Winelands District,” says Mbombo.
Valued at approximately R35 million, the modern Psychiatric Unit boasts 30 beds, 17 male and 13 female, with an Outpatient Department, four consulting rooms, 3 seclusion rooms and a number of service areas.
“The Unit also makes provision to care for mental health clients with infectious diseases, living and rehabilitation areas as well as recreational divisions such as courtyards and verandas. The Unit will also have a staff compliment of 36, including 3 Specialists, 2 Medical Officers and 26 Nursing staff,” highlights Dr Breslau Kruger, Chief Executive Officer at Paarl Hospital.
According to Kruger, psychiatric services at Paarl Hospital continue to remain under pressure, particularly as a result of the high rate of substance abuse, acuity of patient illness and other social factors.
“Approximately 50% of mentally ill patients have a substance abuse problem, with the top three substances including cannabis, tik or methamphetamine and alcohol. Individuals who abuse substances often have very high levels of co-occurring mental and physical health problems,” highlights Kruger.
Servicing the Cape Winelands District and the West Coast District, Paarl Hospital’s Psychiatric Team conducts outreach projects to the two geographical areas; this requires the team to cover vast areas and distances to reach patients. “This is a great challenge for the team; however this is being addressed by strengthening district mental health service provision, incrementally within resource limits. There are now mental health trained nurses on a Primary Health Care and District Hospital level.
“In order to improve the quality of health services and the patient experience for mental healthcare users, the Western Cape Government Health is integrating mental healthcare services into general health services. This is based on the Mental Health Care Act 17 of 2002 which provides for services being available at all levels of care in the least restrictive manner. This is also in line with the National Mental Health Framework,” advises Mbombo.
Charl Prinsloo, Head of Psychiatry at Paarl Hospital, says the new Psychiatric Unit will enable the psychiatric team to assist more patients, especially in the Outpatient Department.
“On average our Psychiatric Outpatient Department tends to approximately 74 mental health clients per month. The new Psychiatric Unit features a larger Outpatient Department, this would facilitate our team in assisting more patients – we are optimistically thinking of doubling our current tally,” advises Prinsloo.
Mbombo acknowledged that the underlying success of the helping individuals with a mental illness is the community. “Over the past years, community involvement has emerged as a central focus within the public healthcare delivery system, especially as a fundamental medium of care for mental health clients. In order to make a valuable difference in the lives of mental health clients and reduce stigma associated with mental illness, we require the support from our communities,” concludes Mbombo.
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