The long-awaited Grampians Prevention and Recovery Care Centre, a new option for mental health care in Ballarat, has opened more than three years after it was first announced.
The centre will operate as a step between community-based care and hospital care for those whose mental health is deteriorating, or after discharge from hospital before patients are able to fully re-engage in the community.
The $6 million centre opened on July 27 and can accommodate 12 patients - six for short stays of up to 28 days as a step-up or step-down between community and hospital treatment, six beds for patients who need a three to six month stay, communal areas and space for indoor and outdoor activities.
The Ballarat and Grampians health region is the last in the state to get a PARC, with 19 others spread across the state.
Ballarat Health Services CEO Dale Fraser said the new facility was a positive step for mental health services in the region.
"Grampians PARC will further improve Ballarat Health Services' capacity to provide those with a mental illness with early intervention and recovery supports in a dedicated state-of- the-art facility," Mr Fraser said.
"These interventions will bridge the gap between community- and hospital-based care, with a service that's safe and supportive for clients and staff."
The Grampians PARC is on Pleasant Street South and the 12 month construction involved retaining, restoring and refurbishing two prominent yellow brick buildings known as the Archer and Fraser houses, and construction of new buildings.
BHS operations director of mental health services Mark Thornett said the new facility would make a big difference to mental health care in the Ballarat and wider Grampians communities.
"We try to maintain community care as much as possible so people can stay in the community, through as many home visits as possible but it's not always enough to stop a person's mental health deteriorating and previously we would to wait until they were really unwell to come to hospital.
"Grampians PARC will allow us to treat someone at that early stage of deterioration ... and provide the same type of support they would have from being an inpatient with mental health nursing and program support to help them recover before they get really unwell.
"And it will help with successful discharge from hospital because not everyone is ready to go straight home but with a week or two in PARC it could make a big difference to them managing and coping."
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Mr Thornett welcomed the first Grampians PARC and said there was definite need for more in the region.
Patients will work together while at PARC, shopping, cooking meals and cleaning similar to create a home-like environment to them re-engage.
Wendouree MP Juliana Addison said the new centre would also help ease the pressure on the BHS emergency department.
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