Monday 8 August 2011

Getting to Know the Minister

Hafal Service User and Expert Patient Trainer Ian Baynes discusses his Care and Treatment Plan with Health and Social Services Minister Lesley Griffiths AM

Time for a round-up of Hafal's contact with the Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths AM, over the last ten days...

On Friday July 29th the Minister launched "Safeguarding for the protection of vulnerable adults", an educational DVD made by Hafal mental health service users and carers in conjunction with Wrexham County Borough Council and the Social Services Improvement Agency. Launching the DVD the Minister said: "This DVD is a very clear way for service users, carers and lay people to understand the concept of adult safeguarding and the need to promote it. It might seem obvious that a DVD primarily aimed at the service user should include service users, but sadly that’s not always the case". In my slot I emphasised the need to protect resources for mental health services and I tried to make the case, learning from the experience of the DVD, for making much more use of the expertise of service-users, for example in ensuring that the Mental Health Measure is successfully implemented.

On Saturday July 30th the Minister took part in a valuable discussion at our Eisteddfod stand about listening to patients who use secondary mental health services across Wales, in particular concerning the central importance of care planning and the opportunity the Mental Health (Wales) Measure will offer next year. The Minister heard how important it is that service users not only get excellent Care and Treatment Plans but that all secondary mental health services should be geared towards delivering those plans in order to give services a consumer focus.

On Wednesday August 3rd Lesley revisited Hafal’s stand at the Eisteddfod. Service users from Wrexham showed her their own individual Care and Treatment Plans and explained how they have helped them. Service user Steven Roberts, 40, who has schizophrenia, was among a group who explained to Lesley how their Plans have helped them to take important steps on their road to recovery. Steven has recently moved into his own flat after a period in supported housing. He has also learnt skills which will enable him to begin leading a computer course shortly.

In case you haven't spotted it Hafal is very clear that the Measure is pretty much the only show in town. There isn't going to be a load of new cash in the near future so we've got to look at best use of resources. The Mental Health (Wales) Measure requires that from June 2012 (six months later than originally planned) all users of secondary mental health services will have a legal right to a Care and Treatment Plan. Hafal is campaigning to ensure that these Plans are holistic and genuinely owned by the user and that they are focused on taking manageable small steps towards recovery.

Hafal Members also believe that the new Care and Treatment Plans should form the central focus for planning and funding all secondary mental health services. Put another way the costs of all secondary mental health services, from a high secure bed costing over £250,000 to a tenancy support visit costing £25, need to be justified by reference to an individual's Care Plan. At present there isn't much sign that services see things that way and I firmly believe that the only people who can open their eyes are patients and their families.