Demonstrating the processes and outcomes of a rural Community Mental Health Rehabilitation Service: A realist evaluation

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 23;16(11):e0260250. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0260250. eCollection 2021.


BACKGROUND: As part of significant mental health reform, the Community Mental Health Rehabilitation Service (CMHRS) was implemented in rural South Australia. The CMHRS is a 10-bed mental health residential program offering rehabilitative mental health support to rural residents.

AIM: To analyse the CMHRS service delivery model and its impact on recovery outcomes for consumers.

METHODS: A mixed method, realist evaluation approach was utilised. A purposive sample of CMHRS staff (n = 6) and consumers (n = 8) were recruited. Consumer recovery was measured using the RAS-DS (on admission and discharge). Participants’ perspectives of the service were gained via one staff focus group (n = 6) and individual semi-structured interviews (consumers n = 6; staff n = 2). Pre-post RAS-DS scores were analysed using paired t-tests/Wilcoxon paired-signed rank test, with qualitative data analysed thematically.

RESULTS: Significant positive increases in RAS-DS total scores were observed at discharge, supported by the qualitative themes of (re)building relationships and social connections and recovering health and wellbeing. Contextual factors (e.g. staffing) and program mechanisms (e.g. scheduling) impacting on service implementation were identified.

CONCLUSION: Maintaining a rehabilitation recovery-focused approach, balanced with an appropriately trained multi-disciplinary team, are vital for maximising positive consumer outcomes.

SIGNIFICANCE: This realist evaluation identifies critical factors impacting rural mental health rehabilitation service delivery.

PMID:34813607 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0260250

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