A new five-year strategy plan for the long-term prospects of the island’s only mental institution, could see the permanent closure of Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI) by 2031.

According to the report published by the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB), one of the main end goals include moving outpatient and long-term care services into the community.

The plan also includes moving acute inpatient mental health services to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Paget.

The five-year strategy plan covers mental health, intellectual disability and substance use services.

The MWI Directorate Plan 2021-2026 was developed following the launch of the BHB Strategic Plan 2021-2026 last year.

BHB Deputy CEO, Scott Pearman, said: “I’m very proud to see the Plan published after an incredible amount of hard work by MWI staff and clients, through a very challenging period. It highlights work with international and local partners and supports the over-arching BHB vision ‘To pursue excellence through improvement, to make Bermuda proud.”

Acting Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Clinical Operations at MWI Preston Swan added: “The strength of the Plan is to provide us with a roadmap to truly transform services and experiences for our clients. While dovetailing to the BHB vision, MWI staff and clients defined the MWI purpose ‘To inspire strength, hope and wellness in our community by promoting independence, choice and person-centred support’.

“The Plan also re-affirms the recovery model as the heart of all we do.

“This is a model that encourages client participation not just in decisions about their own care and treatment, but in service planning.”

There are four goals that give overall direction to the strategy:

1. Transition outpatient and long term care into the community and close the MWI site in the long term

2. Ensure active patient participation in our services using the recovery model

3. Use a needs-based approach to care that ensures people get care at the right time and place and from the right provider

4. Challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with MWI services

Acting Chief of Psychiatry Dr Anna Nielson said: “Shifting outpatient services to community settings helps bring the care to the people who need them. It makes accessing services easier, and people don’t have to visit MWI which can have a stigma associated with it.

“We have already started the process: last year mental health services and support were offered from Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre, Victoria Clinic, the courts and a nurse led pilot has run in a GP office. Lastly, a Community Intellectual Disability Team (CIDT) was launched last year to support clients in their homes.

“The Plan goes further, however, with a long term goal of co-locating acute inpatient mental health services on the KEMH campus, where inpatient acute medical services are delivered.

“People would be able to go to the same campus whether they have an acute mental illness or physical illness.

“They would be separate, purpose built units, but on the same campus allowing for better support and cooperation between the two services.”