Above: Resolve, Cranebrook is set in an ordinary house in an ordinary suburban neighbourhood. PHOTO WARREN HEGGARTY
Panorama visited the Resolve centre at Cranebrook, NSW to learn how this Flourish Australia social investment venture helps keep people out of hospital while saving the taxpayer money and turning a profit for investors.
‘It’s a nice, safe place to be,’ says Maria from the kitchen counter, to the agreement of everyone round the dining table. ‘You get respect here,’ she adds.
Sometimes, in hospital, it can feel as though you are not getting that respect.
The obvious distinction between patients and nurses which you find in a hospital is not replicated here. Some of the people are staff and some are people accessing the Resolve program, but all of them are working towards the same goal.
It is an ordinary suburban house with an extraordinary purpose: to foster the social and emotional well being of people who have recently spent a lot of time in hospital recently.
By a ‘lot of time’ we mean between 40 and 270 days in the previous calendar year. This is the criterion set by the New South Wales Ministry of Health which manages the waiting list for the program. Cranebrook participants are referred from the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District.
The idea is to enable people to continue their recovery journey as far as possible outside of hospital.
To achieve this aim, Resolve employs a team of people, predominantly peer workers, to walk alongside the participants in that journey.
Eric, Mark, Petrina, Tim and Like are in the dining room. Maria and Ash are nearby in the kitchen. Rishani is stuck in the office doing ‘paperwork.’ The sound of Greig’s Piano Concerto in A minor is coming from a computer.
Luke, sitting at the dining table waiting for the afternoon’s scrabble match to begin, says that lately he has developed a liking for classical music.
‘I play stringed instruments. Not violin, but guitar, bass; and piano too…’ he says.
‘He has some very nice guitars’ says Tim
‘I wanted to be in a band’ Luke continues, ‘but it hasn’t worked out yet. I love working on projects, I love working with people’
‘We could start our own band up’ says Ash.
Petrina, it turns out plays drums and one by one others in the room admit that they too are musical!Above: “We could really form our own band!” Some of the people living, working and visiting at Resolve, Cranebrook. From left to right, Maria, Tim, Petrina, Rishani, Luke, Mark, Eric and Ash. PHOTO WARREN HEGGARTY
Music has a lot of practical uses, not just for entertainment and socialising, but even for meditation. Petrina and Maria both say that they like meditating to music. Everyone agrees that it can relax you and distract you from problems. Especially nature sounds. Then there is guided meditation where you have a person’s voice helping you to ‘let go’ of thoughts.
From the point of view of a patient, Hospitalisation for mental health issues can be extremely distressing, especially if it is involuntary. ‘Hospital can feel like being in Prison’ Maria says.
‘I feel more comfortable here’ says Luke in an exchange with Maria and the others, ‘I feel more safe.’ ‘You don’t have to deal with the problems of all the other patients’, ‘It’s not as noisy,’ ‘It’s not as crowded’ ‘It’s more intimate.’
The general consensus is that Resolve beats hospital.
From the point of view of the taxpayer, Hospital is extremely expensive. Given that hospital is sometimes not even the ideal environment for dealing with mental health issues, there must be a better way. Resolve aims at the middle ground where people who may need more intensive support than is generally available in the community are able to avoid hospital.
As explained in our previous articles on Resolve, the success of this program is expected to yield millions of dollars of savings to the taxpayer over the next seven years. The social impact investment method used to fund this venture means that the people who have provided the funds will eventually receive part of that taxpayer saving in the form of a profit.
The Cranebrook Resolve service is a four bedroom house. It is located about three kilometres North of the major centre of Penrith in area at the base of the Blue Mountains that has numerous lakes.
Each of the bedrooms has an ensuite WC. It certainly doesn’t look like a hospital environment (see picture opposite), except perhaps for the lockable cabinet for medications that each room has. There is a sitting room and bathroom upstairs, a lounge room downstairs and small office.
As a program, Resolve has three main components; Warmline which is a non crisis telephone line, outreach services and the residential component. On the day Panorama visited, there were two residents with another two expected to move in within a day. Outreach services involve peer workers traveling to the homes of participants, assisiting them with day to day activities, sometimes bringing them into the Cranebrook house for group activities.
Maria already has some long term plans. ‘I would like to be a chaplain’ she says, ‘in mental health. I know there are a few hurdles to get over on the way there, but I want to start studying.’
It would be interesting to see how participants do fare in the future. Maybe the will get a band together as Ash suggested!