Choices expansion

What is Choices?

Launched in 2017, the current Choices service connects people at risk of poor health outcomes with social and mental health support as they are discharged from emergency departments and justice services. WA Primary Health Alliance and RUAH Community Services co-designed a service model that is delivered by RUAH’s peer workers who draw on their lived experience in similar situations to provide supportive intervention. This includes crucial access to mental health services, alcohol and drug services and other essentials, including crisis accommodation. The Choices service is currently delivered at Royal Perth Hospital, Rockingham Hospital, Perth Watch House and the Perth Magistrates Court.

Expanding Choices

WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) has been successful in securing additional funding from the Australian Government’s Community Health and Hospitals Program to expand the Choices service.

The Choices service will be expanded to four new hospitals - Armadale Hospital, Peel Health Campus, Joondalup Health Campus and St John of God Midland Public Hospital. Additional funds have been provided to boost the clinical capacity of all Choices services in assessing and responding to trauma.

If you have any queries about the Choices expansion, please contact Marissa Pidgeon, PMO Manager via pmo@wapha.org.au


What is Choices?

Launched in 2017, the current Choices service connects people at risk of poor health outcomes with social and mental health support as they are discharged from emergency departments and justice services. WA Primary Health Alliance and RUAH Community Services co-designed a service model that is delivered by RUAH’s peer workers who draw on their lived experience in similar situations to provide supportive intervention. This includes crucial access to mental health services, alcohol and drug services and other essentials, including crisis accommodation. The Choices service is currently delivered at Royal Perth Hospital, Rockingham Hospital, Perth Watch House and the Perth Magistrates Court.

Expanding Choices

WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) has been successful in securing additional funding from the Australian Government’s Community Health and Hospitals Program to expand the Choices service.

The Choices service will be expanded to four new hospitals - Armadale Hospital, Peel Health Campus, Joondalup Health Campus and St John of God Midland Public Hospital. Additional funds have been provided to boost the clinical capacity of all Choices services in assessing and responding to trauma.

If you have any queries about the Choices expansion, please contact Marissa Pidgeon, PMO Manager via pmo@wapha.org.au


  • Tender submissions open

    Good afternoon, everyone. Tender submissions for the Choices (Post-Discharge Support Service) in new locations are now open until February 25. Thankyou for your patience as we worked through some of the complexities of service design to ensure that the services are well-placed to be effective and sustainable. Those who are registered for our tender notifications will have already received an email. If you are not registered, you can access the tender documents at our etender portal here: https://wapha.etenderbox.com.au/Supplier/Home.aspx We encourage you to register on our notifications list to be informed of future tenders as soon as they open - you will find a link here https://www.wapha.org.au/service-providers/service-provider-support/expressions-of-interest-and-tenders/

    Please note that until the tender closes, contact with WAPHA regarding this project is strictly through the contact names noted in the tender documents.

  • Update - procurement timeline

    Good morning everyone. Just popping on to let you know that we have needed a little more time to ensure the procurement documents and assessment process are fit for purpose and the Steering Group input is incorporated. We are anticipating opening tender mid-October with submissions open for 6-8 weeks. a 6-week submission period would enable an outcome before Christmas, however we have extended all submission processes this year due to COVID-related demands on the sector, and are currently considering next steps in this regard. You are welcome to provide feedback on this question for us to consider via the "Ask a Question" link here, or via pmo@wapha.org.au

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  • Focus groups and Steering Group providing robust input

    Hello everyone! During the past 8 weeks, the Choices Expansion Steering Group has been meeting, bringing together representatives from each of the hospitals that will be hosting the Choices service onsite. Focus groups have been very useful in providing insight regarding what the essential elements of Choices are that must be retained, and how the service may be refined and strengthened. We are aiming for tender submissions for the new services to open by October, so are entering a phase of detailed design during August and September. Our sincere thanks go to everyone who has taken time so far to share their reflections and ideas regarding the Choices service, and we encourage you to have a read of the consultation report that will be placed up on this page in September.

  • Choices, a good choice for many

    The latest evaluation of the Choices service has highlighted the positive impact the service is having on people in crisis, supporting them to address their underlying mental health and social issues and keep them out of hospital or police custody.

    Delivered by Ruah Community Services (Ruah), and funded by WA Primary Health Alliance, Choices is the first service of its kind in Australia, connecting people at risk of poor health outcomes with social and mental health support as they are discharged from emergency departments and justice services.

    Since launching in late 2017, the Choices pilot has used peer and case workers to connect with over 3,000 people. A key focus of the service is to provide care coordination and support people to access and remain connected to primary health services in the community.

    The independent evaluation, conducted by the University of Western Australia, looked at the support provided to a subset of close to 400 clients and their changes in hospital use and justice contacts after receiving support.

    WA Primary Health Alliance General Manager, Mark Cockayne, said Choices is making a real difference to people in crisis, providing them with support that can start them on a path to change, and the autonomy to stay on that path.

    “Over the course of the pilot, it was evident that many Choices clients did not have a regular general practitioner (GP) or were presenting to hospital emergency departments with health conditions that could be potentially managed through primary care. This has provided a great opportunity to connect them to a GP who can offer ongoing health care, as well as relevant services and programs in the community,” Mr Cockayne said.

    “The evaluation has shown a 35 per cent reduction in the number of clients presenting to emergency departments in the twelve months following support, a great outcome.”

    WA Primary Health Alliance Principal Advisor and Research Director, Dr Daniel Rock, said the development of trusting relationships with non-clinical staff can be key to ongoing and sustained contact with services, and Choices offers just that.

    “Choices allows clients to navigate the system whilst receiving personalised support from peer support workers who have been in their shoes. We know that care centered around individual needs and preferences helps those at risk of poor health outcomes establish a safe and stable link back into the community, and as the evaluation shows, ultimately reduces recurrent emergency department presentations,” Dr Rock said.

    “Mental health, alcohol and other drug use and accommodation were substantial issues faced by Choices clients. More than half of Choices clients presented with issues relating to accommodation and homelessness. For many, this had led to deteriorations in health. Addressing the housing situation is crucial in order to address other issues such as alcohol and other drug use and mental health issues.”

    Ruah Chief Executive Officer, Debra Zanella, said the service is a great example of how peer engagement, individualised support and flexibility can help those at risk of poor health outcomes in our community.

    “Social isolation, harmful substance use, family breakdown, homelessness, trauma and domestic violence are among factors that contribute to frequent emergency department presentations and interactions with the police,” Ms Zanella said.

    “People who present frequently to emergency departments often have underlying needs and challenging life circumstances which often means that treating the immediate issue will not break the re-presentation cycle. Choices is premised on identifying and addressing these underlying and inter-related needs through peer and community support.”

    “The evaluation highlights the positive impact the service is having on the lives of those clients supported and I am thrilled with the results we are seeing,” said Ms Zanella.

    This service has been made possible through funding provided by the Australian Government under the PHN Program.