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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Case study:

Behavioural Assessment and Specialist Intervention Consultation Service

In response to enormous population growth and the closure of some specialist public sector residential aged care facilities in the region, NorthWestern Mental Health’s Aged Person Mental Health Service established the Behavioural Assessment and Specialist Intervention Consultation Service (BASICS) in 2016.

Jan Hocking, BASICS’ Program Manager, said that given the ageing population and increasing prevalence of mental illness in the area, BASICS was set up to deal with the longer term demand for aged person mental health service tertiary services and increase equality of service provision for those living in residential settings. Ms Hocking said the program recognises the specific needs of residents in aged care.

Aged care residents are remarkably marginalised in terms of access to good health supports. Because of the higher mental health needs this cohort experiences, we realised this needed to be managed by a particular skill set rather than that which exists in the aged care teams.

The BASICS model comprises a dedicated team, including a social worker, manager, clinical psychiatrist, neuropsychiatrist and registered nurses, who provide specialist mental health treatment, care and support to people living with severe mental illness in more than 150 residential aged care facilities across the north and west of metropolitan Melbourne.

Ms Hocking said that this model focuses on partnering with residential aged care services and building the skills of aged care staff so they feel more confident in providing ongoing support to people with severe or complex mental health issues.

The focus of the teams is on capability building and establishing and maintaining relationships, which requires a detailed understanding of the residential aged care sector. We use a consultation‑liaison model, where BASICS staff go into the residential aged care facility and work really closely with staff and carers, modelling behaviours and interventions until they are confident to provide support on an ongoing basis.

The service primarily supports those living in residential aged care facilities and also provides some support to those being discharged or transitioned from an aged persons mental health service acute inpatient unit into a residential aged care facility. It sits separately from the broader community assessment and treatment team, which supports older Victorians in community settings.

Ms Hocking noted that given BASICS operates in aged care settings, it works closely with Commonwealth‑funded services, such as Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services and Severe Behaviour Response Teams. Ms Hocking said they try to ‘support and partner with these programs’ so that BASICS staff can take broader responsibility for residents’ mental health while the other programs focus on specific support for complex issues such as dementia.

Source: RCVMHS meeting with NorthWestern Mental Health’s Aged Person Mental Health Service, 3 September 2020; NorthWestern Mental Health, Behavioural Assessment and Specialist Intervention Service, [accessed 20 November 2020].