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A New Start For Forensic Service, Patients

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Jonathan Coleman
Jonathan Coleman

The Midland Regional Forensic Psychiatric Service was officially relaunched in Hamilton today, with new facilities, a new model of care and a new name.

The name, Puawai, means the blossoming of human kind and reflects a new direction for the service that provides assessment treatment and rehabilitation for mentally disordered adults.

King Tuheitia's daughter Nga Wai Hono I Te Po and Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Associate Minister of Health, unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of more than 200 guests today.

The ceremony was a significant event for Waikato DHB and Tainui, celebrating their unique relationship to deliver forensic psychiatric care to the Midland region.

"Today is about healing, growing and celebrating a partnership between an agency of the crown and a kaupapa Maaori organisation moving forward together as one," Puawai executive clinical director Dr Rees Tapsell said.

"This ceremony marks the completion of a journey and the cementing of our unique relationship.

"The coming together of two health providers in a common model of service delivery, that when combined with the new facilities, enables the service to provide care that will improve the health of service users and reduce the chance of re-offending."

Health Waikato, Waikato District Health Board's hospital and health services provider arm, and Hauora Waikato, Tainui's non-government kaupapa Maaori mental health provider, jointly provide the Midland service for Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki DHBs under a 'one service, two provider' model.

Forensic mental health care is provided in a 44-bed medium and minimum secure inpatient facility, (Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre), 15 minimum secure beds based at Tamahere hospital and healing centre, and through a range of court, prison and community-based forensic services.

Today's ceremony followed the completion of a $10.2million upgrade to the forensic area of the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre, allowing full implementation of a new model of service delivery that was originally agreed upon in 2008.

The ceremony opened two new facilities - a multi-functional whare (Te Puna a Taane) and a rehabilitation hub (Te Puawaitanga) - and blessed 13 kowhatu (stones) gifted by Midland iwi to the service situated in the forensic courtyard of the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre at Waiora Waikato (Waikato Hospital).

Dr Tapsell said these two facilities are the ngakau (heart) of the service that, from Monday, will be used for a wide range of activities including welcoming users and whanau into the service, anxiety management and social skills development, kappa haka, alcohol and drug counselling, cooking classes and job skills planning.

"All these activities are very important in the provision of high quality care," Dr Tapsell said.

Up to 80 per cent of forensic service users are of Maaori descent, are likely to suffer a serious psychotic disorder and have long histories of alcohol and substance misuse, neglect and abuse.

"They enter this service from prison and the courts ill, lost, frightened and angry, needing containment, guidance and love and the challenges in assisting this group of severely disadvantaged patients are many.

"They not only require caring, skilled and dedicated staff but a model of care that works, and resources and facilities that meet their needs both clinically and culturally."

The service's new model of service delivery acknowledges the disproportionate number of Maaori service users and, with the new facilities, offers better opportunities for more effective engagement with service users and their whānau,

Waikato DHB chief executive Craig Climo spoke at the ceremony about the importance for all new facilities that from the DHB's Building Programme fit future needs.

"I believe that the forensic service has done a great job of re-designing its future with these new facilities that will allow the new service to be delivered."

Mr Climo also acknowledged the achievement of collaboration between Hauora Waikato and the DHB.

"Collaboration is difficult and it's even harder as we move along the continuum of increasing size and organisation complexity with two big and quite different providers working as one.

"It had to work, it has and for that you have my admiration and appreciation," Mr Climo said.

Whilst a number of service users require high levels of security, inpatient care is provided within a hospital setting.

Assessment, treatment and rehabilitation is provided by a dedicated team of forensic psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, drug and alcohol workers and other therapeutic support staff.

Once the acute needs are complete, a range of longer term, minimum secure rehabilitation options are provided, preparing service users to gradually and safely return to community life in their areas of origin.

The overall treatment objective is to facilitate a person's recovery, address their risks of further offending and to rehabilitate them back into their home community safely and successfully.

The new name, its metaphor and the model of service delivery reflect the service's objective and care process with each of the forensic wards and areas also received new Maaori names that align with the Puawai metaphor and more accurately describe the care that each provides.

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