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My Recovery: The Consumer-led Journey

Murrumbidgee Local Health District
Project Added:
8 February 2016
Last updated:
8 April 2016

My Recovery: The Consumer-led Journey


The Mental Health Recovery Unit (MHRU) implemented an eight-week program that used the Mental Health Recovery Star tool to help consumers set recovery goals and manage their own recovery reviews.

This project was a finalist in the Patients as Partners Category in the 2015 NSW Health Awards. Watch a video on this project.


To improve health outcomes of mental health consumers, by empowering them take control of their care planning and recovery journey.


  • Empowers consumers to have a voice and take control of their recovery journey with clarity and purpose.
  • Enhances collaboration between clinicians, non-government organisations, community healthcare teams, patients and carers.
  • Drives productivity for healthcare teams and maintains optimal occupancy rates.
  • Improves health outcomes for consumers, through better care planning.


Consumer and carer participation has been part of mental health service planning, delivery and evaluation for over 20 years. However, there is still work to be done in ensuring consumers are leaders in their own care. The NSW Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) conducted a statewide consultation in 2011 and found that consumers continued to feel disempowered in mental health settings. The resulting ‘Border to Border: Visions of Hope’ report emphasised the need for environments that ‘promote hope and optimism, participation, empowerment and responsibility’.

The MHRU was a new unit being developed as part of the Wagga Wagga Mental Health Inpatient. With the opportunity to design a new model of care, it was determined that care planning and clinical reviews in this setting needed to be reframed, giving consumers an opportunity to tell their own story and guide their team on how best to support them.


  • The Mental Health Recovery Star was selected as a tool to help consumers set recovery goals and take control of their own support networks, so they can move through their recovery journey.
  • The Mental Health Recovery Star is a self-report measure completed with consumers on admission, which helps them reflect on their strengths and limitations and allows them to set individual goals.
  • Consumers chair their own recovery reviews, which are an opportunity to report on the progress and review of their Mental Health Recovery Star goals, enlist support from their community and provide feedback to recovery program staff. They are scheduled in weeks two, five and seven of the eight-week program and designed to avoid duplication or overlap.
  • The MHRU admission policy was updated to reflect the introduction of the Mental Health Recovery Star program, stipulating that goal plans are to be completed by all consumers within one week of admission.
  • Each consumer is allocated a recovery support team of two staff members, who are responsible for ensuring the goals are completed and recovery reviews are undertaken as required.

Project status

  • Sustained - the initiative has been implemented and is sustained in standard business.

Key dates

  • Project start: March 2014
  • Project finish: September 2015

Implementation sites

The initiative is currently only being implemented at the Wagga Wagga MHRU, however some community mental health teams in the district have shown interest in adopting the Recovery Review format to review clients.


Recovery Reviews rely on participation from and partnerships with external support providers that are relevant to each consumer. We have worked with local non-government organisations, government services, private practitioners, families, carers and informal supports to ensure that the reviews are inclusive, productive and appropriate to consumers’ support needs.


  • Audits show a 100% completion rate of the Mental Health Recovery Star goals and recovery reviews since implementation of the project.
  • A consumer evaluation survey produced the following quantitative results:
    • 91% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that they were leaders in their recovery journey
    • 90% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that the Mental Health Recovery Star helped identify their recovery goals
    • 91% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that the recovery reviews allowed them to include significant others in their recovery
    • 86% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that participation in the program helped strengthen relationships with mental health services.
  • The following comments were collected in qualitative feedback by consumers:
    • ‘I was in charge of my recovery and involved in all choices with my treatment’
    • ‘I did have doubts with mental health services before coming in. Was tired of just being a number. Now I have a name’
    • ‘Reviews helped me to connect with outside supports. Knowing I will be supported by people who have actively been involved in my recovery journey is comforting'.
  • The program has not been established long enough to determine if any efficiencies have been achieved. The measure of productivity will be determined at the next external review. This review will also determine whether the MHRU has maintained appropriate occupancy rates and separations within fiscal allocations.
  • As the MHRU rapidly approaches full capacity, the program shows no sign of becoming financially unsustainable. Ongoing review will ensure it continues to operate in a responsible manner and maintains or improves productivity.


  • 2015 NSW Health Awards Finalist – Patients as Partners
  • 2015 MLHD Quality Awards Winner – Patients as Partners

Lessons Learnt

  • The process of formalising a dialogue with consumers is intuitive, informative, inclusive of key stakeholders and conveys to the consumer that they are active participants in their care, rather than a passenger.
  • Anyone can be involved in this procedure: it is not a labour-intensive process and can be achieved on relatively low staff to consumer ratios.
  • Community teams have shown interest in adopting it because they have participated in and observed its benefits.
  • General health settings would be able to replicate this process in both hospital and community settings. A client with diabetes or terminal illness is no less capable of leading their healthcare goals.

Further reading

  • Australian Health Ministers. Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Canberra: Australian Government; 1991.
  • Department of Human Services. Second National Mental Health Plan. Canberra: Australian Government; 1998.
  • Feneley J. Living Well in Our Community. Sydney: NSW Mental Health Commission; 2013.
  • Mackeith J, Burns S. Mental Health Recovery Star. 2nd ed. London: Triangle Consulting; 2010.
  • Murrumbidgee Local Health District. The Murrumbidgee Action Plan; 2015.
  • Murrumbidgee Local Health District. Murrumbidgee Local Health District Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Clinical Services Plan 2014-2019.
  • NSW Consumer Advisory Group. Mental Health Inc. Border to Border: Visions of Hope. A report to the NSW Mental Health Commission. Sydney: NSW Consumer Advisory Group; 2012.
  • NSW Health. NSW State Health Plan: Towards 2021. Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health; 2014.
  • Pearce, S. The WISAR Project: designing a model of care for the Mental Health Sub-Acute Unit. Murrumbidgee Local Health District; 2014.


Ashlee Taylor
Senior Occupational Therapist
Mental Health Recovery Unit
Murrumbidgee Local Health District
Phone: 02 5943 1700

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