A successful trial of the ACT’s Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) program will see the service expanded to seven days a week, the ACT Government announced today.
The PACER service is an integrated service model that sees police officers, paramedics and mental health clinicians work together to support the safe in-situ intervention, assessment and treatment of people experiencing acute mental health episodes - minimising both avoidable hospital presentations and contact with the justice system for people with mental health conditions.
PACER reduces demand on policing, emergency services, emergency departments and acute inpatient services through better coordination, and helps to boost the capacity of each agency to respond to mental health crises in the community.
The expansion of the PACER service to seven days a week has been made possible through $720,000 in funding from the ACT Government’s COVID-19 Mental Health Support Package.
Minister Gentleman and Minister Rattenbury have worked to bring ACT Ambulance Services, ACT Policing and Canberra Health Services together to ensure the success of this innovative model for health service delivery. These agencies have looked at other models interstate and overseas, and their hard work has been able to deliver PACER and improve mental health outcomes in our community.
Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury, who visited a PACER service in the UK in September 2018, today described the expansion of the service as “part of our ongoing efforts to do mental health differently. To make sure that we’re providing the kind of services that are designed to give people a better experience of the mental health system and provide them with the care that they need.”
“We know that providing Canberrans in need with timely mental health support, in their homes and their communities, with follow-up support and treatment, can make all the difference,” Minister Rattenbury said.
“Keeping an individual in mental health crisis out of emergency departments ensures we’re supporting more Canberrans sooner in their mental health recovery.”
Minister for Policing and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said, “PACER brings together an appropriate team of experts to help Canberrans in their time of need for mental health support.”
“This collaboration with Canberra Health Services has been possible due to the hard work of ACTAS and ACT Policing – showing the innovative and dynamic service both are. I am proud to have worked alongside these dedicated professionals to deliver this important new initiative for Canberrans.”
Paramedics and police officers are often first responders to mental health crisis situations. Through this model, Canberrans can access mental health support while our mental health professionals are supported by the paramedics and police.
Since the program began, there has been a decrease in emergency apprehensions and the number of people transported to the emergency department for assessment due to mental health concern or crisis.
In its first four months of operation, PACER supported some 300 Canberrans in need. Over 80% were able to remain safely in the community rather than requiring transport to hospital emergency departments for further assessment.