QAMH Member of the Month – August 2019

Open Minds is our August Member of the Month!

Each month we will be highlighting the value and diversity of our members and the fantastic work they do in the community mental health sector.

Read on below to learn more about Open Minds, including their history, values and mission. 

Please tell us a little bit about your organisation.

Open Minds specialises in supporting people with severe mental illness, by providing Complex Support Services, Supported Independent Living, Community Access and Support Coordination for those living with mental illness and disabilities. Based in Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Open Minds has over 100 years of history and is committed to its purpose of enabling an independent and positive future for people living with mental illness and disabilities. Open Minds is also a registered NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) provider.

What are three words to describe your organisation?

  • Empowering – we empower people living with mental illness and disability to be more independent
  • Optimistic – we always hold hope of recovery for our clients to live a positive future
  • Supportive – because support is what we do! We support our clients to achieve whatever goals they want in life, whether it be learning to cook a meal by themselves, or ride in a helicopter for the first time, we’re their cheer squad.

How/why/when did your organisation get started?

Open Minds began its mission of supporting the community in 1912, formerly the Queensland Wattle Day League.

Our story starts as a progressive organisation raising funds for art scholarships, we even funded famous sculptor, Daphne Mayo, who went on to create the Tympanum on the top of Brisbane City Hall, which still sits there today.

We then went on to support returned soldiers following WW1, and funded the build of an Orthopaedic ward at the Rosemount Hospital, supplying artificial limbs.

Our story hasn’t changed, we still support those in need in the community, however for nearly the last 30 years, our focus has been on individual and group support to help people with mental illness and disabilities achieve their goals.

What inspires your work and what sets your organisation apart from everyone else?

Our purpose is enabling an independent and positive future for people living with mental illness and disabilities, and our values are:

  • We work together and empower people to succeed
  • We act with humility and value curiosity
  • We are trustworthy and act with integrity

Our people are what makes us different.  Reputable specialists who are curious, and have a passion for making a difference.  We believe that people aren’t challenging, it’s a situation or behaviour? that is. 

Where does your organisation provide services? What type of services are offered?

Our service locations range from Townsville to Northern New South Wales with hubs and 24/7 residential homes throughout.  Here’s where we provide services:

  • Townsville
  • Bundaberg
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Morayfield/Caboolture
  • Redcliffe
  • Taringa through to Northern Brisbane suburbs
  • Toowoomba
  • Ipswich region
  • Capalaba/Bayside
  • Logan
  • Tweed Heads
  • Lismore
  • Grafton
  • Woolloongabba (Head Office)

Our services include:

  • Activities of Daily Living – our experienced and qualified Support Workers help individuals with shopping, cleaning, personal care, and building skills to maintain independence.
  • Challenging and Complex Behaviours – we have specialists who have a wealth of experience in working with people who have complex care needs and helping to improve their quality of life.
  • Supported Independent Living – we help clients find a home and support them in their home of choice. We can help clients to find shared accommodation with like-minded housemates, and we can provide 24/7 support on-site.
  • Support Coordination – our Support Coordinators operate independently to the rest of the business, they help to research and recommend service providers who are the best fit for each client.
  • Specialist Support Coordination – Very similar to Support Coordination but it is funded where there are additional high or complex needs.
  • Psychology and Counselling – in 2018 we opened the doors to the Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield and provide psychology and counselling services from this centre.
  • Community Access – we assist clients in accessing the community for better health outcomes.
  • CREST – Our Community Re-Entry Services Team in Townsville works within the Correctional Centre, Probation and Parole office in Townsville to support people to be successful on parole.
  • CLS – Our Community Living Support team in NSW work with people who live with severe mental illness to build skills to increase independence, enabling them to better navigate the community.
  • HASI – Our Housing and Support Initiative Team in NSW provide direct support to people with severe mental illness to address their housing needs.

Coastal Supports NPS – a National Psychosocial Supports program provided on the Sunshine Coast for people living with mental illness who are not eligible for NDIS funding.

We are also the lead agency for two headspace centres in Taringa and Redcliffe where we support young people aged 12 – 25 with their mental health.

How many employees do you have? How many offices, and where are they located?

We have over 450 employees spread across 16 offices. We also run a number of residential homes where our clients live, and we provide Supported Independent Living there. We have around 20 residential homes in Queensland, some are owned by Open Minds and others we lease.

How has your organisation changed over the last few years – and what has driven this change?

The NDIS has bought about a lot of change to our organisation, mainly in that we no longer provide many of the services that we were previously block funded such as disability employment services and programs such as: PHaMs (Personal Helper and Mentors) and PIR (Partners In Recovery). 

The introduction of the NDIS means that individuals have more choice and control in their lives to pick a service provider they prefer. Whilst this hasn’t changed much for us and we still offer the same high quality support that we offered before, we have had to adapt how we attract new referrals to ensure we are presented as a provider of choice.

We’ve tried new things like involving clients in the interview process to hire new Support Workers, this has been really positively received by clients.

Looking forward, what do you see as the main challenges/opportunities for your organisation, and why?

We have the opportunity to tell the amazing success stories of some of our clients, many of whom have received more funding than they ever had before with the NDIS. We hope these success stories will help inspire others to access the NDIS and come to Open Minds for Support.

We have the opportunity to tell the story of our rich history of over 100 years and demonstrate the collective experience we’ve gained being around for so long.

We see the main challenge for our organisation is constantly trying to find new ways to generate revenue that covers our operational costs, so that we can stay sustainable and continue to deliver high quality services to our clients.

Tell us something about your organisation that most people wouldn’t know?

Because we are geographically so spread out, we’ve found that a closed internal staff Facebook group has been a great way to stay connected and communicate with each other. For example, at head office in Woolloongabba we love seeing posts from our Townsville team about a fancy dress day they had in the office, events they’ve been attending, and fun things they’ve been up to during their breaks. Even though we’re miles apart and some employees haven’t physically met, it gives us a sense of community and knowledge sharing.

We have a varied team with all sorts of fun hobbies and interests: we have employees who compete in Iron Man challenges regularly throughout the year, some who practice Laughter Yoga, and some who make their own salami. We have an internal newsletter where we share employee stories and achievements wherever we can.

We have a monthly e-newsletter called Better Days which we pack full of news and updates, success stories about our clients, and any relevant industry news. Anyone can subscribe by visiting: https://openminds.org.au/subscribe

Contact Details:
Website – https://openminds.org.au
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/openmindsaustralia/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/openmindsaustralia
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/open-minds/
Phone – 1300 673 664