PRIVATE rehab centres such as Shalom House will become subject to some degree of regulation and the need to provide evidence-based treatment, if the McGowan Government adopts recommendations made by the Meth Taskforce.
The taskforce has recommended the Mental Health Commission and the Department of Health consult with relevant stakeholders to identify the appropriate mechanism for regulating alcohol and other drug specialist service providers, particularly those that are not government funded, to ensure that the community, vulnerable individuals and referring services can be confident in the quality of their services.
As a private rehab centre, which does not receive government funding, Shalom House is not required to meet accreditation standards set by one of the major health accreditation bodies such as the Australian Council of Healthcare Standards or the Quality Improvement Council.
The lack of accreditation for private rehabs has concerned professor Nicole Lee who is the director at 360Edge – a specialist evaluation and training consultancy for the alcohol and other drugs and mental health sectors.
In Drug expert: Assessing rehab options (Echo News, September 17, 2017) Prof Lee said accreditation meant there were systems and mechanisms in place that enabled good, safe and ethical practice.
After the release of the Methamphetamine Action Plan Taskforce final report this week Prof Lee said with the number of new private services that have popped up in the last few years it was crucial that regulation of the sector was put in place to protect consumers.
“Alcohol and other drug responses can be counter intuitive and some providers, although possibly well intentioned, are offering options that are not proven to be effective, and worse some that can be dangerous,’’ she said.
“Publicly funded services, including NGOs, have mandatory accreditation requirements in order to receive funding so there are already some parameters around how they deliver services.
“The private sector has no such regulation.’’
Prof Lee said there was a stigma attached to alcohol and other drug problems.
“So it can be a big step to approach a treatment service for help.
“It’s crucial that wherever they go people who use drugs can receive good evidence-based treatment and appropriate referral.
“Services need to have the capacity to respond effectively to people with alcohol and other drug problems who seek help.’’
She said the majority of people in alcohol and other drug treatment also have some kind of mental health issue – most commonly depression or anxiety.
“Alcohol and other drug services need to be able to assist people who have co-occurring mental health problems.
“We know that relapse in one condition can lead to relapse in the other, so it’s important to address both.
“We need to be able to respond to the whole person and all their needs, not just their drug problem.
“The national benchmarking tools help services to understand their current capabilities in responding to both alcohol and other drug and mental health problems, and where they need to improve.
Shalom House chief executive officer Peter Lyndon-James, who is also a City of Swan councillor, did not respond to questions but in the past has been critical of the way not-for-profit organisations are funded.
Mr Lyndon-James said funds should be allocated on the basis of proven outcomes and the ability given to those running the organisation to allocate the funds in their areas of need.
He said assessment panels should go into the organisation, conduct a comprehensive audit and based on their findings, make recommendations for improvement, followed by granting unconditional funds for any future work to be carried out.
“The assessment panel would then need to return and assess the expenditure of the funds six months later to see what progress and improvements were made,’’ he said.
Former Department of Sport and Recreation director general Ron Alexander was chairman of the Methamphetamine Action Plan Taskforce with the other members being Professor Simon Lenton, Professor Colleen Hayward, Professor Daniel Fatovich, Michelle Fyfe and Bunbury MLA Don Punch.
Professor Daniel Fatovich (deputy chairman) – Professor of Emergency Medicine at Royal Perth Hospital and The University of Western Australia and head of the Centre for Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research;
Michelle Fyfe – former assistant commissioner Judicial Services, Western Australia Police Force and St John Ambulance Western Australia chief executive officer;
Professor Colleen Hayward – Alcohol and Other Drug Advisory Council chairwoman, head of Kurongkurl Katiitjin (Centre for Indigenous Education and Research) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Equity and Indigenous, Edith Cowan University;
Professor Simon Lenton – National Drug Research Institute director at Curtin University.
By Anita McInnes