Supporting drug and alcohol addicts to detox at home is slashing wait times for people desperate for help.
Marlborough patients were waiting almost two months as staff shortages slowed access to addiction services.
But a new detox nurse employed across the district is providing planned treatment faster than ever before.
Nelson Marlborough Health Addictions Service in Blenheim was struggling to keep up with demand, with 32 people waiting six weeks plus for help in April.
General manager Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey says the new appointment is already having a positive effect.
“Treatment can be provided more quickly because, with a detox nurse’s support, it can be provided in a person’s home and doesn’t rely on the availability of hospital beds, or beds in a residential service in another part of NZ,” she says.
The regional service has facilities in Blenheim, Nelson and Golden Bay and, among other tasks, helps with community detox, screening and intervention for patients admitted to Wairau Hospital.
Staff can also refer people for in patient care and assist with an opioid substitution treatment plan.
The wait list in Blenheim is currently longer than Nelson primarily due to staffing vacancies.
“We have been providing phone support from Nelson for people on the Wairau waitlist and we have recently recruited to a position in Wairau,”
“This is making a difference and we are starting to see a reduction in the waitlist time,” Jane says.
There are currently 13 people on the waitlist in Blenheim and can usually be seen within two weeks, on average.
Jane says finding staff for Marlborough vacancies can be difficult.
There is a current vacancy for one full-time nurse and a part time service coordinator.
“We still have vacancies in the team and while it can be challenging to recruit qualified staff like this to the Marlborough region, we are confident we will find the right people,” Jane says.
Addictions service clients may also have appointments and treatment plans with staff in other services.
There are 16.4 (full time equivalent) staff employed by the service in Nelson, which also covers Motueka and Golden Bay and 11.8 (full time equivalent) in Marlborough.