Following a well-run expansion of services in accordance with the WA Methamphetamine Strategy, the Mental Health Commission (MHC) has increased access to treatment in areas of need. This has resulted in a significant increase in the amount and proportion of alcohol and drug treatment undertaken by people with methamphetamine problems.
Despite achieving the increase in services funded under the Strategy, there is still evidence of unmet need for services. There are still fewer residential rehab beds in the north metropolitan area, fewer Community Alcohol and Drug Services staff and fewer withdrawal beds across the state than were estimated to be needed by 2017.
Assessing drug treatment effectiveness is difficult because there is no definitive cure. The MHC manages its relationships with individual providers well, but could do better in assessing whether services are meeting client needs. It collects clients’ self-assessments before and after each course of treatment and receives information from its service providers on incidents of care and other key performance indicators. However, it does not use this information to understand treatment outcomes or how clients and their families use treatment services, or to predict demand for services. Differences in the way providers report on their performance also makes it hard for the MHC to be sure it is getting the best value from its contracts.