Advances in Mental Health, Vol 12, No 2 (2014)

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Strengthening acute inpatient mental health care for Indigenous clients

Rachael Hinton, Pat Bradley, Thomas Trauer, Tricia Nagel


Indigenous people are over-represented in inpatient mental health care in Australia. Evidence suggests client-orientated care planning increase client engagement, reduce substance dependence and improve self-management among Indigenous people. The successful uptake and implementation of interventions, however, which promote access and cultural security in primary care practice, remains challenging. The Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative introduced a multifaceted approach to client-oriented care planning, as part of routine care to the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) inpatient psychiatric unit, to determine whether there was change in the quality of care to Indigenous clients over time.


The study used a mixed methods design. It was underpinned by an action-oriented research approach and incorporated stakeholder engagement, interactive training in strengths based recovery approach and psycho-education and a quantitative audit of inpatient files. The results suggest some improvements in quality of care for clients in the inpatient unit with increased attention to social and family history, involvement of translators, and allocation of case managers. Cross cultural training and tools promoted change in some aspects of clinical practice. Some changes, however, were often not sustained and it did not necessarily promote engagement of AMHWs in routine care. Greater emphases on follow up training and provision of clinician feedback, in conjunction with high-level system change and commitment to introduction of culturally adapted recovery principles, is required for more sustained changes to clinician care and implementation success.






Advances in Mental Health

ISSN 1837-4905
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