Archive for July, 2011

St Helens Council – Overview and Scrutiny (OSC) report on crisis services.

The final report is available on the Council’s website (search for ‘scrutiny crisis’). It is a long document (38 pages) with 11 recommendations. Forum and Carers group members were interviewed by the OSC in November. We were disappointed that they had not informed us that the final report had been published and that they did not think to send us a hard copy. We had downloaded it ourselves from the website. Our representatives were given a copy at the Mental Health Partnership Board.

Members thought the report –

  • didn’t answer our questions
  • was unhelpful
  • was not concrete
  • needs an action plan
  • is unclear who it is written for
  • recommendation 7 suggest people who use services should ‘be granted full access’ to their Care Plan document. We believe people should be involved in developing the Care Plan, agree to its contents and be given a copy.
  • There are no recommendations which involve people who use services. There is no co-production. The recommendations are all about what services should be doing.

Members also described recent incidents where they have felt let down by the Crisis team. One person described a case where they went to A&E in the evening, gave up waiting for psychiatric support so had to go home again in the early hours of the morning without further support.

We would like to see a copy of any action plans developed by the various agencies involved. And would welcome opportunities to be involved in developing and monitoring the action plans.


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At our meeting in June, people described that Mind’s befriending scheme is useful. Other organisations also offer befriending – for example some Doctor’s (GP) have them. Also some people prefer to have befrienders that aren’t linked to mental health. Age Concern have befrienders and together have done some work with them so that they are now inclusive of people with mental health problems.

The Peer Support Network is similar to befriending – it is about people helping each other informally. Denise described how people had been helping each other with things like shopping and planning meals. People match themselves up informally.

The Peer Support Network are cleaning up the Memorial Garden at the Church. They are going to tackle the weeds and rubbish, and then look at some new plants. 

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Jacqui described the work of Open Mind

Open Mind is the name for the Single Point of Access to mental health support. We have had various speakers in the past who have described this work. Roman and Karen were both on the original development group. The Open Mind started in May 2010.

People can self refer – the number is 0800 183 0206 (freephone number) or 0151 511 6888 It is open Monday to Friday 9-5pm. The service is for people aged over 16. If people are already in touch with mental health services (5 Boroughs), people should speak to their care coordinator rather than Open Mind. If people are using alcohol or drugs, they may be able to use Open Mind, depending on the reason for the referral – Open Mind is not a specialist service for drugs and alcohol, but may be able to help with other issues.

All calls are assessed on the day and added to their database. Callers need to provide details including name, date of birth, address, GP and brief reason for the call. It helps them to know what medication has been prescribed.

People get a local appointment within about 4-6 weeks with a mental health nurse. If it requires a more urgent response, they speak to people on the phone.

They can signpost people to various services including counselling, psychological therapies, or for a medication review. They can also provide literature as well as use Books on Prescription, which is a scheme that offers a booklist of self-help books that people can select at local libraries.

Jackie is the patient experience coordinator – she covers the whole journey through their service and wants to hear about people’s experience so that they can improve. She has run focus groups with people who have used the service.

Forum members described issues of their referrals getting lost and just waiting for months to hear from them. Also people phoning up and being told they had to go through their GP. Jackie wants to hear any problems that people are having. Phone her on their number.

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Peter announced that Making Space had ended his contract as Forum Development Worker, because the PCT had decommissioned the post. He has been offered another post within the organisation and will no longer be supporting the Forum.

Members are disappointed that two posts for involvement have been decommissioned. The Forum development worker post (half time) and the self help group development officer (full time) were two posts which had been requested by people who use services. This need has not gone away. There are now no posts specifically around self help support in St Helens.

Making Space have also lost the moving on coordinator and two posts from developing options. Together has lost a senior support worker post and the carers support worker posts have reduced from 4 full time to 3 part time.

Together told the carers group that they would be encouraging carers to attend the support groups to access support. Organisations do see self help groups as useful and supportive. We question how they expect unsupported volunteers to ensure that the groups provide a suitable service for everyone.

The orginal commissionng of the forum development worker post came about because commissioners wanted us to grow the membership by visiting all services and groups in the community. They paid for a development worker to do this role. This role also linked in with the self help group development post. Without these posts, the forum cannot go out to visit other groups. We hope the PCT will support the peer support network as it hopes to deliver a user led network.

We ask members of self help groups across the Borough to attend the Forum to keep up to date with changes in St Helens.

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