Fred Ford is calling on the community spirit that brought headspace to the Border to raise the standard of facilities at Nolan House.
Mr Ford joined Friends of Nolan House prior to its merger with the hospital auxiliary in June and is pushing to establish an annual fundraising campaign, coinciding with mental health week.
“Wagga is going to be a first class facility for mental health and Albury deserves the same,” he said.
“We as a community have a unique opportunity to establish a mental health facility that creates a sense of hope and recovery.”
Mr Ford said the committee, established almost one year ago to focus on improving the mental health unit, has recently re-shuffled due to president Paul Summerfield’s decision to step down.
“Roz Quinn has stepped in to and Courtney Avery is the new vice president and a young person,” he said.
“We’ve got a cross-section of age groups who come from different walks of life.”
Mr Ford said he was confident an application for government funding would be approved, but it would only scratch the surface of what needs to happen at the unit.
“That $1.1 million will go into the structural stuff – we’re looking at more of the decor, improvements to rooms, furnishing and the outside gardens,” he said.
North East Border Mental Health Service director Michael Nuck said it would be known before the year ends whether the Victorian Government will hand over $1 million in funding to upgrade Nolan House.
Mr Nuck said he was feeling confident awaiting a response to his proposal, linked in with a wider infrastructure upgrade plan for Albury Wodonga Health.
“We are getting attention from the department – we’re one of the larger regional mental health services now, straddling the Border,” he said.
“You’re dealing with competing demand both at state and national level.
“There are needs everywhere and it’s about identifying us and getting in the schedule.”
The proposed upgrade to Nolan House includes providing single rooms with en suites for all patients and absorbing the transit lounge used by the hospital back into the mental health unit.
“It’s looking at changing the entrance, gaining more therapy space, more bedding and improved amenities,” he said.
“Maximising space is a priority.”
Friends of Nolan House member Fred Ford said it was integral patients had their own rooms, as sharing could be detrimental to their health.
“Different people are at different stages of recovery in that crisis situation,” he said.
“If you’ve got somebody coming out the other end, they don’t need to be with somebody who’s at the earlier stage.
“It’s not criticism of anybody else, but people need an atmosphere that’s conducive of where they’re at.
“People with mental health issues are taught about mindfulness – being aware of themselves and what’s around them – and a sanctuary room could also help instill that.”
Mr Nuck said NEBMHS was working to improve follow-up post-discharge and stop patients leaving with no home to go to.
“A lot of that will be about a partnership with those involved – linking up with GPs, generalist counsellors and other health service providers before the discharge occurs,” he said.
“The intention is other agencies are engaged and nobody is lost to the service – people who are discharged get the right support.”