Life Choices for Health
South Eastern Health Providers Association
The Life Choices for Health project aims to reduce the co-morbid chronic physical health conditions experienced by people living with severe and persistent mental illness.
South Eastern Health Providers association (SEHPA) will work with a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse and a Credentialed Diabetes Educator both of whom have extensive experience running lifestyle modification programs and experience running lifestyle modification programs and working with people with severe and persistent mental illness.
The Life Choices for Health program will use content that is evidence-based and structured, while being flexible enough to be adapted to meet the specific needs of individual participants. The program will be pilot tested in three locations in collaboration with GP clinics. The program framework and content will be adapted and available for use beyond the funded project period.
Processes for referral and feedback to general practice, SEMPIR and other mental health services will be developed and tested. The project will also promote opportunities for clients to engage meaningfully with primary care providers, community agencies and, when appropriate, the tertiary health system.
By June 2016, 3 groups (6 sessions per group) have been run in different locations in the SEMPIR catchment. 28 people attended the groups (18 clients and 10 support people) and feedback from participants in the groups wa very positive and improvements have been reported.
Two education sessions for healthcare providers where also delivered in this project. The events were titled: ‘Mental Health and Physical Health: What’s the Connection?’ and 'The Importance of Physical Health with Mental Illness: Small Changes Big Differences'. A total of 47 participants attended the two events and the valuations from both events were positive with participants highlighting area they would be changing in their day to day practice. An additional 8 primary health care providers participated in practice-based education session at one of the local GP Practice.
A presentation on the project was given at the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) Conference in May 2016.
Programs for people living with severe and persistent mental health illness need to be flexible to address their needs. Barriers for group participants that were identified during the project included: Transport problems, going to an unfamiliar setting, participation in group activities, various health / other appointments and feeling unwell on the day of a session.
General practices and practice nurses are well placed to support mental health patients within a setting that is familiar to patients (i.e. their own general practice). Provision of training and resources could assist practice nurses in providing this support to mental health patients