Mental health nurses have a very diverse and challenging role in caring and supporting for people with mental health issues and their families. Their involvement will be crucial when integrating mental health in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Professor Wendy Cross, Head, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Monash University and President, Australian College of Mental Health Nurses took the time to answer our questions about some of the key challenges to ensure a successful transition to the NDIS.
IIR Healthcare: As an advocate for the patient and their carers what do you see as a central issue mental health nurses will have deal with during the introduction of the NDIS?
Professor Wendy Cross: Mental health nurses work in many settings and across all sectors. Providers within the NDIS are also very diverse. Many will have nurses involved, both general and mental health nurses. These professionals will have front line access to people with disabilities, their carers and families and to the services they access. The biggest hurdle will be negotiating and brokering the multiple service options to ensure appropriate management as well as minimising duplication and redundancy. This will require significant training and up-skilling.
IIR Healthcare: The NDIS is designed to give people with psychosocial disabilities more agency in choosing the types of services they would like to incorporate in their treatment. What role will the mental health nurse have to play in facilitating this process?
Professor Wendy Cross: Person-centredness is a core philosophy of mental health nursing and embedded within the professional standards. Service users are provided with the appropriate information and opportunity to make their own decisions regarding management and service options. Mental health nurses are already strongly supportive of self-determination and work in a variety of ways to ensure this. Mental health nurses have knowledge of services that can be useful for people with disabilities and can provide information, create linkages and referrals.
IIR Healthcare: Do you see any potential pitfalls that need to be avoided during the rollout of the NDIS?
Professor Wendy Cross: I am sure there will be occasional hiccups with the roll out as there is with many new initiatives. These are usually well managed and the issues sorted. I think the potential for a raft of “new providers” entering the market will need to be carefully monitored to ensure that the services they are offering are of a suitable quality and sustainability and not exploitative.
IIR Healthcare: You will be speaking at the inaugural Integrating Mental Health into the NDIS conference. What discussions would you like to have with government representatives and healthcare professionals at the event?
Professor Wendy Cross: I would like to meet with different groups to ascertain their response regarding nursing input to the NDIS and how we can collaborate to ensure a smooth and excellent scheme.