Health professionals can refer any patient who is being referred into, or managed under the ATAPS Suicide Prevention Service to the ATAPS Suicide Support Line. The patient is able to call anytime for immediate crisis support, or the provider can organise that a call be made to the patient to provide interim support until their appointment with the provider.
The line supports health professionals to support their patients by:
- providing crisis counselling to patients in between appointments, at night or on weekends
- making initial contact and providing interim support to patients referred to an ATAPS Suicide Prevention Service before a weekend or public holiday
- supporting outpatients following an after-hours hospital release until they can make contact with their ATAPS practitioner
- making contact with any client a practitioner is concerned about or requires specialist support.
Continuity of care
The ATAPS Suicide Support Line’s innovative integrated service delivery model ensures patients and service providers benefit from continuity of care. This is achieved through the service’s ongoing engagement with the patient and other professional partners. A key part of this continuity of care is facilitated through the shared access to comprehensive electronic case notes. As Susan Rosenthal, Operations Manager at On the Line, explains:
“The AHPs have access to iCase [online case record system], so they can log on externally and see what has transpired in the calls through the notes. They can also ring us and give us updates about clients, about their needs or their circumstances as they change.”
This means that every person who contacts the service receives high quality support and seamless transitions through care pathways.
This year saw a significant increase in uptake of the Suicide Support Line as the ATAPS Suicide Prevention Programs have been rolled out in Medicare Locals across Australia, and the number of clients accessing these programs increased. The line itself was also extended and is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring vital support is accessible around the clock.
The recent increases in uptake for the service reflect the considerable need for professional, 24/7 support for people at risk of suicide. The ATAPS Suicide Support Line is successfully ‘filling the gap’ in service provision for at-risk clients.
Being a 24/7 professional service provider, On the Line is well-equipped to meet the challenges of meeting the needs of at risk clients.
Telephone counselling as a key modality
The Suicide Support Line makes use of an important modality in any suicide prevention strategy – telephone counselling. The ease with which telephone counselling can provide a comprehensive, well-integrated, national, 24/7 support service makes it a perfect complement to the face-to-face services provided within the ATAPS program.
“I think telephone counselling is an essential part of a suicide prevention strategy. Obviously people need somewhere to turn when they’re feeling at really high risk or experiencing a crisis – as they say, you can’t schedule a crisis during business hours. It often happens at the most inconvenient time in terms of getting in touch with services. Having someone that you can pick up the phone, call and have a chat to, develop a safety plan to get through the night or the rest of the day until you can see your health professional is essential.” – Susan Rosenthal, Operations Manager, On the Line
Feedback from clients and providers
A recent evaluation of the Suicide Support Line showed that at least 70% of referring practitioners were satisfied with key aspects of the service, including the counselling support, quality and ease of access of case notes and communication between ATAPS and Medicare Locals. On the Line often receives positive feedback from both ATAPS clients and health professionals on the usefulness of the service. Importantly, this has included the positive impact of the service on the wellbeing of health professionals supporting people at risk:
“[The Suicide Support Line] enables me to sleep nights, take holidays and generally switch off when I leave the office knowing that people in crisis have a point of contact, and that there is follow up for me.”
For more information on the ATAPS Suicide Support Line, please contact Operations Manager Susan Rosenthal at On the Line:
(03) 8371 2835