To kick off the 2021 Health Minister’s Award for Nursing Trailblazers, we will be featuring each of our Finalists in the lead up to the virtual National Nursing Forum taking place from 26-28 October 2021, where the Winner will be announced.
This week, we are featuring Carey Blaik MACN, who has been named one of the Finalists for delivering mental health support through a nurse-led community service.
What’s the story behind Our House Our Haven (OHOH)?
As a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse (CMHN) with 30 years of experience, I was very aware of the gaps in our current health system. It doesn’t adequately meet the needs of those presenting for specific intervention (e.g., complex trauma and focusing on recovery).
My dream was to create a safe space where, with clinical guidance, people could heal, and establish a supportive and inclusive community within which they could share experiences and explore themselves through art, drumming, yoga, gardening and just being with our animals.
So, I founded OHOH in 2016 in collaboration with a person who has a lived experience (severe and complex mental health issues) and two other CMHNs at the time.
Can you explain what is the ‘specialised mental health intervention’ you employ?
A specialised mental health intervention has basically three steps:
- Triage: Determine the level of intervention required (following comprehensive assessment).
- Physical health: Determine the person’s immediate physical health care (liaising with treating GP).
- Social contact: Focuses on helping the person change problem behaviours and gain knowledge, skills and strategies to improve the quality of their lives.
Our goal is to provide individual specialised intervention to those people who have been rejected from government and NGO services after being told that their needs are too complex and that they couldn’t be helped.
We validate their experiences without judgement and provide clinical and professional care without losing sight of the fact that we are sensitive.
“I hope that me being named finalist is an encouragement to other mental health nurses – what we do matters, what we do gets results, and that our life’s work is valuable, critical and appreciated.”
What lessons have you learnt during your leadership journey?
One nurse, working together with other care providers, can deliver the necessary care to our local community. However, to meet the needs of our larger local government area we require funding to build a skilled and cohesive team of staff to provide the treatment and support needed for individual healing. At the moment, we utilise skilled and qualified volunteers, but we still have limited resources.
How has OHOH maintained sustainability?
Sustainability comes from continued support from volunteers donating their time and skills to our cause. As a charity, some people do donate to us on a regular basis. We had Primary Health Nursing funding for a short time.
We receive many referrals from the Department of Families, psychiatrists, psychologists and GPs because we do not have waitlists. As a result, our ability to triage people immediately is our biggest achievement, because these people have significantly reduced their number of emergency department presentations and hospitalisation.
Going forward, we see ourselves doing more preventative and outreach work, where we can support people in the community before interventions are needed. This includes community education and participation. We also want to improve communication pathways with the hospital and other clinics to provide streamlined care.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected OHOH or its services in any way?
We’ve been busier than ever! Our workload has tripled. We are trying to navigate telehealth where appropriate, as some clients are not comfortable or confident with technology.
Our volunteers put in extra time ensuring cleaning and sanitation, as well as checking that everyone signs in. We’re inundated with people needing our services but of course, we can’t provide group activities.
What does it mean for you to be named as a Trailblazer finalist?
I’m so delighted that the work we are doing at Our House Our Haven is recognised by the Health Minister’s Award. We work so hard, often without pay, to support those who need it. And this recognition for our work is critical to us getting the attention we need to secure this service’s future.
I hope that me being named finalist is an encouragement to other mental health nurses – what we do matters, what we do gets results, and that our life’s work is valuable, critical and appreciated.
The 2021 Trailblazer Winner will be announced during the virtual National Nursing Forum taking place from 26-28 October 2021. Stay tuned for more information about how to tune in to the ceremony.
- Read about 2021 Trailblazer Finalist Julie Westaway MACN
- Read about 2021 Trailblazer Finalist Sonia Martin MACN
- Read about 2021 Trailblazer Finalist Lisa Hellwege MACN
Nominate yourself or a colleague for the year 2022.