Tuesday 13 July 2010

Flinty Resolve

Hafal Flintshire welcomed the microbus last Friday for afternoon tea in the latest event of our “Road to Recovery” campaign. The North Wales leg of the journey takes in all seven northern counties during the high summer including our large-scale North Wales jamboree for invited Hafal activists and Members on 28th July in Colwyn Bay. All credit to Hafal’s North Wales staff and volunteers for organising events every week including the school holidays – and thanks to Andrew MacIntosh for driving it to the venues, setting up all the kit, and keeping her lovingly-polished between her public engagements. She is certainly rising to the occasion and Andrew claims improbably that he got her up to no less than 60mph on the flat, a startling feat for the unimpressive-looking, 46 year-old, air-cooled, 1.5 litre powertrain modestly secreted in her rear end.

The bus heads to Ynys Mon this Friday – more about that in due course – but meanwhile the National Assembly is today discussing the Mental Health Measure following publication of the Legislation Committee’s report. Hafal is staking out the lobby with Sue Barnes, National Service User Champion, and John Gilheaney, our Young People's Information Officer – you can see their briefing here.

The worry for our Members is that the Measure certainly looks like a good thing but the devil is in the detail. The core of the Measure - the bit which could make the biggest difference – is Part 2: this section accords a legal right to secondary mental health patients to have a care plan the format and content of which may be prescribed. The trouble is that any old care plan will not do much good: some current care plans do little more than state a medical prescription, who will administer it, and that it will be reviewed in a year. To make a difference it is essential that the format and content of a decent quality care plan is clearly prescribed. The Assembly Government has already identified from service users and families what should be in an holistic, recovery-focused care plan: the 9 life areas which need to be covered are already prescibed in the Welsh Code of Practice for the Mental Health Act and these same 9 areas have been flagged as quality practice for the current Care Programme Approach by the Minister (see the diagram below). So the work on identifying what is needed has been done: now we need to see that go into the Measure not just as vague guidance but legally-required practice.

There are other useful elements in the Measure but we mustn’t be distracted from the centrality of Part 2 and the need to get its content and accompanying regulations right.