First Step’s GPs
Your doctor forms the core of your support team at First Step, providing primary care, planning and referral. If required your doctor can formulate a Care Plan with you, connecting you to the services of a Psychologist and/or Mental Health Nurse at First Step and/or Pyschiatrist. Within this team care arrangement, your doctor can work with you on:
- Replacement pharmacotherapy (methadone, buprenorphine, suboxone or naltrexone)
- Reducing or ceasing your usage of illicit or prescription referring you to the relevant specialist or form of treatment
- Women’s health
- General medicine
Psychology, Mental Health Nurses and counselling
As part of a Care Plan the doctor may refer you to one of First Step’s Psychologists or Mental Health Nurses. These services may also be available to your partner or family members. Medicare funds 10 sessions over a calendar year with a Psychologist or Mental Health Nurse. More services may be available if you live or work in the City of Port Phillip.
There is some overlap between Mental Health Nursing and Psychology. Broadly speaking, a Mental Health Nurse is qualified to help you with:
- Psychiatric medicines (which drug, the dosing schedule and minimising side-effects)
- Replacement pharmacotherapy (how best to make this work for you)
- Specialised assessment tools that will help us deliver a complete, whole-person approach to your treatment (legal problems, housing issues, etc.)
A Psychologist can help you with:
- Support and care
- Management of anxiety, depression and stress
- Repairing damaged relationships
- Healing painful memories and gaining personal insights
- Creating a better future by finding new goals and practising new habits=
What is a Mental Health Care Plan:
If appropriate, your doctor can develop a Mental Health Care Plan with you which will provide access to Medicare funded additional clinical services at no cost to you. A Mental Health Care Plan:
- Enables you to see clinicians who specialise in addiction with no out-of-pocket expenses.
- Assists in setting and achieving goals.
- Enables you to be more involved in your own care and manages long term care in a clear concise way.
- Provides an essential checklist to ensure continuity of care and encourages a team approach to the patient-centred plan.
- Focuses on improving and maintaining health rather than waiting for illness onset.
- Improves you and your family’s/carer’s awareness of which services are needed and why.
Hepatitis C – First Step Healthy Liver Clinic
With the new range of (direct acting antiviral) drugs, after just a couple of months 94% of people are Hep C free. This includes people on methadone (or similar) and people with a recent history of injecting drugs. Side-effects of these treatments are very minor compared to previous treatments. In part because the new medications are so effective, the federal government has put billions of dollars in to getting Australia ‘Hep C free’. So don’t wait any longer and ask at reception (or call 9537 3177) for an appointment.
Hepatitis C (Hep C) is an infectious disease primarily affecting the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus which is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact (usually intravenous drug use). The infection often shows no initial symptoms, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver. In some cases, those with severe scarring (cirrhosis) may go on to develop liver failure or liver cancer.
Within only 6 months of intravenous drug use, 50-80% of drug users test positive for Hep C.
Our Hep C clinic runs every Monday afternoon from 2:30pm-4pm and from 10am-2pm every second Friday. Appointments can be made to discuss:
- Testing to see if you have Hep C
- Receive information about how to live with Hep C or Hep B
- starting treatment for Hep
- Learn how to keep your liver healthy
Please note that the First Step Healthy Liver Clinic is happy to establish a shared care relationship with your First Step GP for the delivery of Hep C treatment.
Hepatitis Victoria: www.hepvic.org.au or Hep C Infoline 1800 703 003
Hepatitis Australia: www.hepatitisaustralia.com
Case managers and care coordinators
Case Managers and Care Coordinators can be particularly helpful when it’s all getting to much and you need help getting on top of things. These workers have a broad skillset and can help with:
- Care team coordination
- Safety planning
- Time management and attending appointments
- Support to develop community and social linkages
- Daily living skills development
- Workforce/learning readiness skill development
- Parent skills training
First Step is funded to do Care Coordination with eligible clients with mental health needs who live and/or work in the City of Port Phillip (http://www.semphn.org.au/resources/mental-health/mental-health-integrated-complex-care.html) and for clients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness (regardless of geographical are). Talk to any of our clinicians and/or the front desk staff if you think you would benefit from this kind of support.