Maryann Matikainen

Pathways to Community Living Initiative: a new choice


I started my nursing career as an assistant-in-nursing. After becoming an endorsed enrolled nurse I moved into mental health nursing in a neuropsychiatry unit where I worked fulltime for 10 years while continuing my studies and gaining a Bachelor of Nursing with Distinction at Charles Sturt University and later a Master of Mental Health Nursing with Distinction at the University of Newcastle. I am currently the Clinical Nurse Consultant for the Community Transitions Team on the Pathways to Community Living Initiative (PCLI) for NSW Health Hunter New England Local Health District.


Health care clients who are aged and experience chronic mental illness with acute behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) have been considered impossible to place in aged care facilities. The lifetime accumulative effect of health disadvantage and poorer social integration leave them with few choices and many will spend the final years of their life in hospital in an acute aged care psychiatry unit. In 2015 the NSW Ministry of Health established the Pathways to Community Living initiative (PCLI) to meet the needs of people at risk of long stays in a mental health unit. The PCLI is a state led collaborative initiative between NSW Health and private partnerships to support people to move into the community with supports. Phase one of the PCLI project relates to people over the age of 65 whose complex needs require specialist support. Mental Health Aged Care Partnership Initiative (MHACPI) units are ten bed units established in residential aged care facilities with specialist support from multidisciplinary NSW health clinicians, to support people transitioning from long stay mental health beds into residential care. The PCLI project and the MHACPI units represent a new choice in dementia care for people once considered ‘mission impossible’.

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