Wayne Daly in the newly refurbished dual diagnosis unit. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

BENDIGO has become the first location in Victoria to offer dual diagnosis treatment beds for people battling addiction and poor mental health.

Drawing on money offered by the state government earlier this year, Bendigo Health is six weeks away from completing a refurbishment of the former Vahland House psychiatric unit in Long Gully.

The service is already operating for two patients and by today will have a further three beds open.

At full capacity, it will offer eight beds, each for treatment over a three month stay.

Nurse unit manager Wayne Daly said people with a dual diagnosis would have previously gone into one of the psychiatric patient units, “which was not appropriate”, or treated for one or the either in a drug and alcohol, or mental health, service.

“We are really fortunate that we can treat both sides of the equation,” Mr Daly said.

“Part of the brief we had when this was opened was that we were to look after people with moderate to severe mental health issues and moderate to severe drug and alcohol issues.

“We have a regular psychiatrist here, we have a medical officer, we have an (occupational therapist) and a social worker as well.

“We have a really good mixture of staff, we have a good gender mix, a good mix of experience so we have people with experience with alcohol and drugs and we have people with a lot of experience with mental health as well.

“Things like group programs, their medications, a whole range of social activities, if they are having issues with housing, with Centrelink, we can facilitate helping them through those problems where normally they wouldn’t have anyone to help them.”

It is a requirement that referred patients undergo detox before they can take up a bed.

Bendigo Health chairman Bob Cameron said at full capacity, there would be a staff of 14 at the centre.

Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards said not all of the 100 new rehabilitation beds across Victoria funded by the government would be dual diagnosis.

“I am really happy that Bendigo is first off the mark, particularly with this facility,” Ms Edwards said.