Lack of support when I really needed it

(as the patient),

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About: Mental Health - Prahran

Last year my therapist, who I had been seeing for many years, passed away. I was going through a rather difficult time in my life and this only added to my struggles.

Following this I was seeing a case worker at Star Health from the Mental Health Team (then Inner South Community Health). With little notice and no real discussion with me, they dismissed me from the program, only two weeks after my therapists passing. I was extremely vulnerable at this time and I feel that they did not take any consideration into what I was going through. All they did was send me a list of possible new therapists. This was a time where I needed support in social aspects and needed them to provide me with that people-contact.

Speaking with my psychiatrist, they said that they believed that the case worker couldn’t deal with the suicidal thoughts that I had been feeling and had discussed with them.

Prior to my dismissal, the case worker had taken me to a respite facility to look at what options I may have available to me when I need a bit of time for myself. During the care ride, they said to me that the respite facility does not take people who were suicidal. Saying this was not a problem as it was something that I needed to be made aware of. However, when we got to the facility and were speaking to the respite worker, my case worker asked them – you don’t accept people that are suicidal, do you? I was so embarrassed. They had already told me this in private (where it was appropriate), why did they need to say this in front of people?

I want to clarify that it wasn’t all bad. They were able to help me get a computer so that I could take a course, and were taking me to see what options I had for further support. But overall they really needed to be there to support me during this difficult time, and they really did not do this for me.

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Responses to this story

Response from Alan Murnane, GM Primary and Mental Health, Star Health (was Inner South Community Health)

Dear pilates user,

Thank you for taking the time in providing feedback about your service experience. I’m sorry to hear that this was your experience in what sounds like a very difficult time for you.

I am concerned that you felt we did not provide you with the support you needed with the death of your therapist. I apologise that this occurred. Given it would seem to have been appropriate to have a longer engagement while you adjusted to your loss. This may have also provided time for you to reconsidered your needs from the Star Health mental health worker.

Regarding the management of the visit to the respite facility, I can understand your embarrassment and do not understand why this happened. If there were obligations on the worker to inform the respite provider of any concerns about your health, this should have been discussed with you before the visit. It should then have been done in a private and confidential manner. All consumers have a right to know and understand any information that may be shared about them, and to have input into what is shared and how.

Your feedback will assist us in ensuring that our practice is better in the future and we will ensure that the matters you raised are carefully reviewed by the relevant people in our Mental Health Team.

I am glad to hear your experience with Star Health was ‘wasn’t all bad’. However it should have been a much more positive experience that was more supportive of your well-being overall. I would be very pleased to discuss this matter further if you would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact me on 9525 1300 or amurnane@starhealth.org.au.

Alan Murnane

General Manager, Primary and Mental Health

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