Departments

Mary Guthrie House (BDU)

Mary Guthrie House is a 30 bed inpatient unit for persons aged 16-64 who suffer from severe cognitive and psychiatric disability and/or "major neurocognitive disorder" as currently defined in DSM-V.

Given the diverse problems faced by this client group, the unit is split into two areas that provide different focus and expertise:

Heath Unit

This is a 10 bed secure ward for persons who need preferrential focus on their psychiatric or "behavioural" disability, rather than their physical disability. It is approved for involuntary psychiatric treatment and staffing includes psychiatry, nursing, allied health, recreation and PSO's (psychiatric service officers). Clients who have additional funding packages may also receive input from external providers, so long as these providers have honorary approval and comply with workforce requirements of Austin Health.

Entry into the unit requires prior assessment by the the BDP Community Team and further discussion at the BDP admissions panel that meets weekly. Such scrutiny is useful for several reasons including:

  • it ensures that clinical needs and potential risks are properly identified
  • goals and rehab potential are assesed more comprehensively
  • lesser restrictive alternatives are properly ruled out
  • it provides the client and family/carers the opportunity to inspect the ward and engage in the process
  • the process ensures that all possible applications for additional supports (such as disability support workers) are made prior to admission, given the lowering of eligibility that often occurs post admission

Admission length is variable depending on the individual's clinical condition and their broader circumstances. It is unusual to get the full benefit of admission in under three months, and most people find that they need 6 to 18 months to engage and meet reasonable goal targets.

Discharge is a planned process that involves the client and family/carers, while follow-up typically involves the BDP Community Team, GP, disability care providers and the client's Area Mental Health Service when required.

Wattle Protea Unit

Wattle Protea is a 20 bed secure ward for persons who need preferrential focus on their physical or cognitive disability, rather than their psychiatric disability. It is classified as a nursing home which has several implications, including:

Staffing includes medical, nursing, allied health, recreation and PSO's. Like the Heath Unit, clients with additional funding packages also receive input from external providers, and active attempts are made prior to admission to secure such packages when none exist.

Admission process into Wattle Protea is similar to Heath, though length of stay is typically longer due to the added level of disability seen in this client group. Nevertheless, discharge planning starts early and remains an active item on the client's care plan throughout their admission since the aim of all BDU clients is rehabilitation rather than residency into the unit.

An indicative list of similarities and differences between Heath and Wattle Protea is tabled below:

Element Heath Wattle Protea
Age criterion 16-64 17-64
Brain impairment criterion Unrestricted & can include clients with neurodegenerative disorders  Unrestricted & can include clients with neurodegenerative disorders 
Nature of disability Focus more on mental health Focus more on physical disability
Compensable clients
(eg TAC
Accepted
Typically 10-20% of referrals
Accepted
Typically 10-20% of referrals
Desired length of stay 3-18 months 6-24 months
Legislative compliance Victorian Mental Health Act Commonwealth Aged Care Act
Accreditation compliance NSQHS, NSMHS NSQHS, NSMHS, Aged Care
Funding State Commonwealth (with State topup)