Wednesday 9 October 2013

Onwards and Upwards

Here's a sneak preview of some of the conclusions of our User and Carer Panel in their report at the end of this summer's Lights! Camera! ACTION! campaign (to be published tomorrow when it is launched at our World Mental Health Day event attended by the Minister and other AMs and dignitaries along with a big crowd of user and carer activists - more on this in due course)...

The feedback demonstrates how as service users and carers we feel that while there is sound legislation and policy in place, now is the time to follow through and deliver responsive and empowering services...

• We want all service users to have an excellent and ambitious Care and Treatment Plan which identifies long and short-term goals in all relevant areas of life.

• We also want a turnaround in the approach of commissioners so that all services are planned in response to needs identified in Care and Treatment Plans (as opposed to the other way round).

But more radical change is needed even in the medium term. We cannot simply rely on the implementation of the new law and policy to address the huge inequalities faced by people with a mental illness and their carers...

• We need a Welsh solution for giving control of resources to service users and carers and this is part of a wider debate about access and choice when it comes to health and social services.

• We also need to evolve new policy and legislation in the next 5-10 years not only to provide greater empowerment to service users and carers but to address inequalities in all areas of life including training, employment, physical health, housing, etc

... so they are truly thinking ahead!

There is plenty more in their report about the immediate challenges of implementing the Measure and the Strategy but they are dead right to point out as well that the present legislation and high level policy, sound though they may be as far as they go, will not be sufficient to get us onwards and upwards over the coming decade.

Let's hear it one more time - we will never achieve really excellent services until we leave behind the "take it or leave it" approach and give users and carers choice which keeps providers on their toes.

A Welsh solution is needed for this which will have to embrace more than just mental health services. Current arrangements for choice - really only in social care, not health - are limited and very hard to navigate.

But the universal, legally-supported Care and Treatment Plans offer an ideal platform for choice and control by patients - so why not pilot an approach to patient choice and control in the mental health field?

It would make a change to see mental health services take the lead instead of stumbling along behind...