Australian Government Department of Veterans Affairs - At Ease - Recognise Act Maintain Australian Government Department of Veterans Affairs - At Ease - Recognise Act Maintain

August 2016 Newsletter
 

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August 2016 Newsletter
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Free professional development webinar series

The MHPN, on behalf of DVA, is hosting a free webinar series to help providers better support the mental health needs of veterans.

The webinars are an Accredited Activity with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development Program. It is also accredited for Professional Development Points by Australian College of Rural and remote Medicine.

The series has been developed to improve your ability to support veterans by increasing your understanding of the meaning of military culture for veterans. Topics for each webinar have been chosen based on interest and feedback from not only the provider community but also research into this type of online communication tool. Topics include: the context of military culture and how it influences veterans’ experiences, evidence based treatment options for posttraumatic stress disorder, treatments for insomnia and nightmares, anger, and the impact of veterans’ mental health issues on families.

There is no need to travel to benefit from this free professional development opportunity. Simply register and log in on the night to participate from home, or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection. If you are unavailable on the designated webinar night, they will be recorded so you can view them at a later stage.

Questions? Click here for more information on individual webinars with the time, date and topic allocated and if you have any further questions call MHPN on 1800 209 031 or email webinars@mhpn.org.au.

A trial of faster treatment for PTSD

PTSD is the most commonly treated mental health condition for Australian veterans.  It is a seriously disabling condition associated with high levels of distress, reduced quality of life, decreased occupational and social functioning, increased family dysfunction and high long-term healthcare costs in both veteran-specific and general health services. DVA and Defence are always exploring in new treatment options for PTSD to improve veteran quality of life.

Prolonged Exposure is one of the most effective front-line treatments for PTSD. Standard prolonged exposure requires weekly treatment for 10 weeks. For some people, this can pose significant barriers to access because they are unable to maintain this treatment over the 10 weeks. The Intensive Prolonged Exposure Randomised Control Trial being conducted by Phoenix Australia on behalf of DVA, Defence and the National Health and Medical Research Council, will test whether an intensive delivery of prolonged exposure therapy, involving 10 sessions over a 2 week period, will deliver comparable outcomes to standard prolonged exposure.

The trial is underway and will involve 200 participants recruited through a referral process across three states – Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and randomly allocated to a program of either standard or intensive PE.

Participants can sign up in two ways. As the treatment provider, you can review information about the trial at http://phoenixaustralia.org/RESTORE and if appropriate for your patient, contact the trial intake officer on 1800 856 824. Alternatively, any veteran or ex-serving ADF member can call the trial intake officer directly on 1800 856 824 to discuss their suitability for the trial.

Trial participants do not need to be a DVA client, but they do need to be a current or ex-serving ADF member.

If intensive prolonged exposure therapy proves equivalent to the standard delivery of exposure therapy, it will address barriers to treatment and directly influence DVA and Defence policy and the delivery of evidence-based treatment by health providers nationwide. For veterans and military personnel with PTSD, providing a treatment option with reduced duration of therapy has the potential to increase uptake of evidence based treatment, reduce PTSD severity and deliver positive impacts on employment and relationships. There is also the potential that the evidence from this trial will not only inform the treatment of veteran and military personnel but could be applied to those with PTSD across the whole Australian community.

DVA Rehabilitation program

DVA provides rehabilitation assistance to entitled serving and former ADF members, declared members, reservists and cadets. DVA rehabilitation aims to restore each individual to at least the same physical, social and vocational status they enjoyed prior to their injury or illness. It focuses on all elements of a person’s lifestyle and aims to improve the client’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Rehabilitation programs are designed to assist clients who are injured or become ill as a result of their ADF service. The type and extent of rehabilitation will depend on the nature and severity of the injury or illness and individual circumstances.

DVA tailors every rehabilitation plan to suit each client and encourages them to play an active part in the process. The client works closely with their rehabilitation provider and health providers in the development and implementation of their own individual rehabilitation plan. DVA applies a whole‑of‑person approach to rehabilitation which includes medical management as an adjunct to treatment, vocational and psychosocial goals and support.

DVA has recently incorporated Goal Attainment Scaling to assist in the rehabilitation of clients. This scale is used to identify personal goals in the development of a rehabilitation plan. As a rehabilitation provider you and your client can work together to tailor individual goals, and ensure the goals identified are appropriate and achievable. The goals and any change in the person’s functioning, employment, social and wellbeing outcomes are all measured during the life of the plan against a standardised scale.

 Goal Attainment Scaling improves DVA’s rehabilitation program by:

  • ensuring a shared understanding of the client’s rehabilitation goals from the outset via collaborative development;
  • ensuring consistent expectations throughout the life of a rehabilitation plan by using well developed formal documentation; and
  • assessing and reporting on improvements and changes to life satisfaction and wellbeing over the life of the plan

For more information you can direct clients to DVA’s rehabilitation page at www.dva.gov.au/rehabilitationIf you have any further questions regarding DVA Rehabilitation, then please let us know by emailing us at Rehab@DVA.

Greater access to mental health care

All past and present members of the permanent ADF now have access to DVA treatment for certain mental health conditions, without having to claim that their conditions are related to their service.

The 2016-17 Budget included $37.9 million to extend eligibility for, and improve access to non-liability treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder.

These arrangements are already available to some former ADF members, but eligibility is dependent on when and how long they served, or the nature of their service.  This extension of eligibility means that anyone who has ever served in the permanent ADF, including those subject to abuse, will now be eligible for treatment for these mental health conditions.

Non-liability treatment is accessed through a DVA Health Card – For Specific Conditions (White Card) and may include services provided by a general practitioner, psychologist, mental health social worker, mental health occupational therapist, psychiatrist, hospital services, specialist PTSD program, and pharmaceuticals.  The White Card also confers eligibility to access counselling services through the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service for the treatment of the White Card mental health condition.

The new arrangements will also make mental health non-liability treatment easier to access, as application forms will no longer be mandatory.  Requests may be emailed or, in some cases, phoned through to DVA.

DVA will still need to confirm a person’s proof of identity and service, however, a diagnosis of one of the five mental health conditions will no longer be required before treatment can be approved.  Instead, a formal diagnosis can be provided within six months of treatment commencing.

How can you help your clients access these arrangements?

If you have a serving or former ADF patient who presents with mental health symptoms, and they don’t already receive treatment from DVA, please encourage them to make contact with DVA to explore their eligibility for non-liability treatment.

If a mental health non-liability condition is under consideration, DVA can issue a White Card for an initial period of six months.

You can also assist your patients to access ongoing non-liability treatment by providing DVA with a formal diagnosis of their condition(s) before the end of the initial six month treatment period.  This can be provided as early or late in the initial six month period as it takes for a considered and accurate diagnosis to be made.  A diagnosis can be provided by a general practitioner, clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

For more information, the NLHC Factsheet (HSV-109) is available on DVA’s website at http://www.dva.gov.au/about-dva/dva-factsheets. If you or your patients have any questions, please contact the NLHC team via email at: NLHC@dva.gov.au or through the toll-free general inquiries number 133 254 or 1800 555 254 (for regional callers).

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