Tracking app safeguards mental health nurses

SOS calls to phones, SMS, and even Twitter.

St. Vincent’s Mental Health Unit has implemented a mobile tracking system to track and monitor its crisis and homeless nurse teams.

The unit, part of St Vincent's Health, provides ongoing specialist care and psychiatric assessment through a crisis unit and two mobile clinical support teams to people in Melbourne suffering acute psychiatric illness. It employs 196 staff and has an acute general 44 patient bed for short-term recovery from mental illness.

The clinic's nine crisis and mobile staff have been equipped with Nokia mobile phones loaded with a locally-developed tracking application that sends alerts to security whenever a distress mode is activated.

It uses a GSM triangulation capability that tracks and locates staff within 20 metres during the course of outpatient visits.

Manager of the unit’s crisis assessment and treatment service, Bryan Bowditch, said the system will be configured to surreptitiously ring the clinic's security firm when staff issue a distress call, and silently record audio feeds.

The application can also issue e-mails, SMSes and even Twitter posts whenever a distress call is issued, idle time is exceeded or geographic boundary is passed.

Bowditch said the decision to deploy the system was a combination of a want to improve staff safety and new outreach worksafe legislation mandated in Victoria last year.

“Our security company can check if a distress call is a false alarm and contact us to work out a response,” Bowditch said.

“It can track staff to a specific [house] and it was only once out by one [residential] address in the trials.”

He will implement the platform once it has been integrated into the security company's systems, which follows a recent three-month trial of the application’s distress tracking capabilities.

Bowditch said he was swayed by the success of the trial and the $1000 per unit price tag which he said was the cheapest of its kind. He selected the MySpot platform after looking for a solution for more than two years, including local tracking products and a UK tool which is unavailable in Australia.

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