This investigation focused on the impact of integrating crisis team members into community mental health services on emergency department and adult mental health inpatient unit demand within an Australian public health service. Mixed methods were used including (a) the comparison of service use data with that of two other comparable services (both of which had community-based crisis teams), (b) surveys of (i) patients and carers and (ii) staff, and (c) focus groups with staff. The numbers of emergency department presentations with mental health conditions and adult mental health inpatient separations increased 13.9 and 5.7 %, respectively, from FY2006/07 to FY2012/13. Between the three services, there were minimal differences in the percentages of presentations with mental health conditions, the distribution of mental health presentations across a 24-h period, and the triage categories assigned to these patients. Survey participants reported that patients used the emergency department due to the urgency of situations, perceptions that gaining access to mental health services would take less time, and the unavailability of mental health services when help is needed. Staff identified several issues (e.g. inappropriate referrals) that may be unnecessary in increasing emergency department demand. The integration of crisis team members into community mental health services does not seem to have produced an increase in emergency department admissions or inpatient separations beyond what might be expected from population growth. The potential may exist, however, to reduce emergency department admissions through addressing the issue of inappropriate referrals.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 13, 2016
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