A new $11.6 million mental health community care unit will be built on the corner of Spring and West Sts in Kearneys Spring.
A new $11.6 million mental health community care unit will be built on the corner of Spring and West Sts in Kearneys Spring. Chris Calcino

No consultation on mental health unit

QUEENSLAND Health has called for tenders for the construction of a 24-bed care unit in Kearneys Spring to ease mental health patients back in community.

The $11.6 million complex will be built on the corner of Spring and West Sts - one of five new community care units across Queensland.

The complex will be built within 100m of two childcare centres and next door to a church hall.

Neighbouring residents have not been consulted over the plan and hold grave concerns about safety and the effect on property values.

Georgette Ahfock, who has operated Georgette's Family Child Care from her Spring St home for 10 years, heard about the plan for the first time yesterday from The Chronicle.

Neighbours Arthur and Joan Thurrowgood had heard only rumours.

Would you be comfortable with a mental health community care unit being built near your home?

This poll ended on 01 September 2013.

Current Results

Yes

38%

No

61%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

"The point is that we haven't been consulted," Mrs Thurrowgood said.

"If they don't tell you anything, you have to expect the worst.

"We're Christian people and don't want to cause problems, but we're also scared because we just don't know what is happening."

Mrs Ahfock said she would have to consider selling her home to continue her child care business.

"But I think it will be hard to sell our homes in the years to come," she said.

Spring St residents (from left) Arthur and Joan Thurrowgood and child carer Georgette Ahfock are concerned about a new mental health unit's effect on their safety and property values.
Spring St residents (from left) Arthur and Joan Thurrowgood and child carer Georgette Ahfock are concerned about a new mental health unit's effect on their safety and property values. Chris Calcino

The truth may be less daunting than they fear but the Queensland Nurses Union says it raises serious concerns about the future of Baillie Henderson Hospital.

Regional organiser Jenny Ballantyne supported the program but said its funding would halve the hospital's size.

"These patients are basically ready for discharge - this is a way for them to get some guidance and support to make sure they can stand on their own two feet," she said.

"But the funding for the five community care units being built across Queensland (in Cairns, Rockhampton, Nambour, Bundaberg and Toowoomba) comes from the Baillie Henderson budget.

"That means the funding for 64 beds will go to fund those units.

"One unit is already due to close next month - the Penrose House (geriatric) unit.

"Realistically, Baillie Henderson will eventually be halved in size."

 

The Queensland Nurses Union says funding for five mental health community care units across the state will come from the budget of Baillie Henderson Hospital.
The Queensland Nurses Union says funding for five mental health community care units across the state will come from the budget of Baillie Henderson Hospital. Bev Lacey

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service mental health services director Shirley Wigan said the new unit would be well staffed by mental health professionals.

It remains unclear whether they will be Queensland Health workers our sourced from the private sector.

"The new facility will be staffed onsite by health professionals 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week," she said.

"(It is) for consumers who are in recovery but need additional support to learn the life skills needed to reintegrate into the community fully."

The call for expressions of interest for construction of the complex ends next Friday.



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