Mental health reform in NSW has a strong focus on enhancing community care. My Choice: Pathways to Community Living Initiative (PCLI) supports people with severe and persistent mental illness to transition from long stay hospital care into community services. For older people, a natural pathway may include a transition into residential care.
Mental Health–Aged Care Partnership Initiative (MHACPI) transition units are expanding under PCLI. This model of care brings together expertise from NSW Health older people’s mental health services and from non-government aged care services. Increased staffing, psychological approaches to behaviour management, and home-like environments incorporating design principles for people with dementia/mental illness are key elements.
Our paper explores the challenges in designing such spaces, with reference to case studies. We discuss the relationship between model of care and the environment in the MHACPI unit context, providing a supportive community living option and improving access to long-term, community-based care.