Tuesday 3 August 2010

PIG Brings Home the Bacon

No peace for the wicked. While our virtuous Assembly Members head off for a long summer break in sunnier climes we miserable sinners are left in the drizzle with much to do in their absence. Two connected bits of work this August: first, the consultation on interim guidance on the Care Programme Approach, especially important because the presumption must be that this will form the basis of regulations or guidance on Part 2 of the Mental Health Measure which accords rights to a care plan for people in receipt of secondary mental health services; second, we should be considering possible amendments to the Measure which will continue its passage through the legislative process immediately on the return of the aforementioned relaxed and tanned AMs.

Actually the first matter may be more important, even if it sounds rather technical, because the Measure stands or falls on the extent to which it can create a platform for a consistent, methodical, and holistic pathway to recovery for people with a serious mental illness. At present only a minority of people who experience a serious mental illness are helped - or help themselves - to stabilise quickly following crisis and then take prompt action to reestablish their life plans. All too many instead endure years of stasis or, worse, deterioration, before finally finding the way ahead typically through a coincidence of their own determination and encountering professional or family help with unusual ambition for progress in place of the more usual fatalism. Unsurprisingly and sadly many do not ever find that way ahead because it is much too dependent on good luck.

The signs are good. All credit to the officials who have drafted the interim Policy Implementation Guidance (delightfully these documents are commonly referred to as "pigs"), incorporating clear principles about recovery and concrete requirements for holistic care and treatment plans. Many Hafal members are attending the consultation events later this month and will no doubt seek to reinforce the practical focus of the guidance and resist dilution or unnecessary complication. There are places still left at the consultation events and I would encourage users and carers to attend: if you contact us we can give you the details.