People with a manageable mental illness living in Perth’s eastern suburbs will soon have a new choice in accommodation, with construction starting this week on 15 new homes in Middle Swan.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health John Hyde said the units were part of the State Government’s $560million WA Mental Health Strategy. The strategy provided additional funding, on top of the annual mental health budget, to improve services and create more community-based accommodation and support for people with a mental illness.
“The $3million Community Supported Residential Units (CSRU) in Middle Swan will provide accommodation and support for 25 people with a manageable mental illness,” Mr Hyde said.
“The 15 units are a mix of one, two and three bedroom self-contained units, similar to a strata title development, and have been purposely designed to complement existing homes in the area.
“St Bartholomew’s House, a local non-profit mental health accommodation provider, will provide on-site support such as cooking, cleaning and assistance with financial management, as well as linking residents with local recreational and social groups.
“One in five Australians will suffer from a mental illness at some time in their lives.
“When people with a mental illness are provided with accommodation support in the community, not only does their mental health improve - meaning fewer hospital stays - but their physical health, community involvement and independence also improves.
“These homes are particularly needed for people who are currently living in unsuitable accommodation with no support, or may be living at home with elderly carers.”
Midland MLA Michelle Roberts said the homes provided a balance between independence and support for people with a mental illness.
“This development fills a need for the eastern metropolitan region and will help people with a manageable mental illness to lead a fulfilling life in the community,” Ms Roberts said.
CSRU advocate Jerry Burong, of Ballajura, cares for his daughter ‘Alice’ (not her real name), who was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was fourteen.
“When Alice was initially diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, she was treated in open and locked wards of a psychiatric hospital,” Mr Burong said.
“My wife and I took turns to be with Alice daily for a minimum of five hours every day. We did this until she was able to ‘recover’ with medication and live with us again.
“Alice has lived at home full-time since 1996, but as my wife and I are getting older, we want to ensure that Alice’s future is secure and her home life is stable.”
Other accommodation projects under the WA Mental Health Strategy include:
· 200 places in Community Supported Residential units for people with
low-to-medium support needs;
· 30 places in Community Options homes for people with high support needs;
· 50 beds in two transitional accommodation facilities in Perth and Fremantle for homeless people with a mental illness;
· 120 additional places in the Independent Living Program; and
· 47 Intermediate care beds.
CSRUs have already opened in Busselton, Geraldton and Albany. The Bentley and Bunbury CSRUs are due to be completed and opened later this year, with Middle Swan and Osborne Park CSRUs scheduled to open next year.
The State Government last week announced funding for the WA Mental Health Strategy would increase by 22.7 per cent in 2008-09, taking it to more than $76million per annum.
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