Primary Health Tasmania is supporting implementation of the Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) decision support tool across the state. This free online tool aims to standardise the assessment of people seeking mental health support in primary health care settings.
The IAR decision support tool was developed by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, based on this national guidance. Development also drew on input from a range of experts, clinical peak bodies and consumers.
The tool has been developed to support a stepped care model. It is useful for GPs and mental health clinicians to support clinical judgement and ensure that the person seeking mental health support is matched to the care that most suits their needs at the time.
How does it work?
The IAR decision support tool aims to assist GPs and other mental health clinicians when making clinical judgements and decisions on the mental health treatment needs of a person. It helps the clinician or intake staff explore the person’s situation in a holistic manner across eight assessment domains, so they can recommend the most appropriate level of care.
The IAR tool is currently being used as a part of the intake process for all Head to Health mental health centres and the national Head to Health Phone Service. In the future, it is expected to be used in the intake and referral process for all Australian and state government-funded clinical mental health services.
How does it help?
Implementing the IAR decision support tool across the mental health sector will:
enable use of common language and a consistent intake process
promote nationally consistent definitions and understanding of service types, based on the intensity of care
ensure the person is matched to care most suited to their current need
minimise the likelihood of consumers having to repeat information
enable efficient and appropriate referrals across the mental health sector
support step-down referrals from public health services.
Primary Health Tasmania is offering free two-hour workshops for Tasmanian GPs, community service staff and all other mental health professionals on use of the IAR decision support tool. The training focuses on:
an introduction to the tool and development of the national guidance
the assessment domains, levels of care, and using the decision support tool
clinical judgement and supported decision making
practical application of the tool in assessment and intake settings, using vignettes.
Click here to register for an upcoming IAR training workshop.
Primary Health Tasmania also has dedicated IAR training support officers who can deliver in-house training sessions at GP clinics and other service provider sites. They can also facilitate activities to collaborate, build and strengthen multidisciplinary IAR practice, such as communities of practice.
The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care has developed the following explanatory videos about the IAR tool. The first two videos feature GPs, and the third features a Tasmanian with lived experience of mental ill-health.