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  • Author or Editor: Melissa Petrakis x
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  • To describe an evaluation of the recovery orientation of an innovation model of service delivery for people with multiple and complex needs.

  • To illustrate the value of collaborative partnerships in conducting community research (CR).

  • To highlight the value of CR to a project seeking to engage vulnerable and marginalised participants.

  • To explore the challenges experienced by community researchers in conducting research, including ethical considerations, participant recruitment, role boundaries, power sharing and the effects of the environment.

This chapter describes the experience of community researchers as active participants in the evaluation of an innovative new model of service delivery, the Adult Mental Health Initiatives: a collaboration between St Vincent’s Mental Health (SVMH) and Mind Australia in Melbourne, Australia. Both organisations support people with severe and enduring symptoms of mental illness and complex needs. The initiatives are funded by the Victorian State Government and are aimed at people who move between service providers in an uncoordinated manner, often at risk of poor outcomes including repeated hospital admissions, homelessness and/or incarceration. Both services aim to embed a recovery model to achieve service user-focused, integrated, holistic and targeted service delivery.

To develop and improve the service being provided, the evaluation team utilised two service user-rated recovery-orientation-of-the-service measures: the Recovery Enhancing Environment measure (REE) and the Recovery Self-Assessment (RSA) (service user version). The experience of the service users in completing the measures was also investigated by inviting them to rate the relevance of the tools and their preference to determine the more appropriate recovery measure for future programme evaluation.

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The significant demand for and reduction in mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in family carers providing higher levels and increased hours of support of increased complexity. Guided conversations within seven co-designed online focus groups with 73 family carers, representing diverse communities and ages, explored the experiences of and desired changes for mental health service provision. Six themes emerged: service users’ experiences; the effects of system failures and service provisions; the impact on carers’ health and well-being; unmet community needs; responsive innovations; and policy and practice recommendations. Co-producing research with families elevated family voices and supported carers in expressing their experiences, needs and rights.

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