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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2008): Mental health services - UK

Can you reach her?

M. Brown

Foster Care, issue 132, 2008, p. 14-16

Looked-after children are five times more likely than their peers to have serious mental health and behavioural problems. This article describes two innovative schemes in Wales which offer support to prevent the breakdown of foster placements and avoid moving the child into residential care. The first involves development of a cadre of therapeutic foster carers with advanced skills who will attempt to stabilise a child's behaviour so that he/she can return to mainstream care. The second involves provision of a package of intensive multi-disciplinary support from social services, education and health professionals for both carers and the child.

Doing the right thing

J. Cosh

Mental Health Today, Feb. 2008, p. 18-19

In Scotland people from black and minority ethnic communities are believed to be under-represented as mental health service users. This is partly because of lack of information about mental health services, and partly because of the stigma attached to mental illness in those communities. The National Resource Centre for Ethnic Minority Health established in 2002 is working to support NHS health boards in the development of culturally appropriate services for minority groups.

How can assistive technology and telecare support the independence and employment prospects for adults with learning disabilities?

A. Aspinall

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 1, Dec. 2007, p. 43-48

The TATE (Through Assistive Technology to Employment) project has looked at how electronic assistive technology, ICT and telecare could both make cost savings for health and social care services and increase the independence of people with learning disabilities. This article presents a series of case studies demonstrating some of the advantages of both innovative and traditional assistive technology and telecare for services users and formal and family carers.

'I don't look ill enough'

N. Valios

Community Care, Feb. 7th 2008, p. 26-27

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder resulting in difficulties with social interaction and communication. It is neither a learning disability nor a mental health problem. This has led to adults with Asperger's syndrome falling between the two services as they do not meet the criteria for either. Some people with autism will have an accompanying learning disability or mental health problem which may qualify them for a service, although this will generally be for the accompanying disability and not for the problems associated with autism.

Learning the lessons together

A. Faulkner and others

Mental Health Today, Feb. 2008, p. 24-26

This article reports on an innovative user-led research project carried out by the Mental Health Foundation as part of a national evaluation of community-based services for people with a diagnosis of personality disorder. Part of the evaluation involved focus groups and in-depth interviews with current and former users of the pilot community-based services and their carers. Service users were heavily involved in designing the research module, conducting the focus groups and interviews, analysing the data, and constructing the final report.

A new option for hospital discharge

S. Haspel

Mental Health Today, Feb. 2008, p. 27-29

Supervised Community Treatment (SCT) will come into effect in England and Wales in October 2008. SCT is effectively a discharge option for people detained in hospital under the mental health legislation. It establishes a clear and unambiguous contract for treatment in the community after discharge. If a patient defaults on his/her agreed treatment plan, this will trigger an assessment and, ultimately, they may be recalled to hospital. The article goes on to describe the implementation programme.

Peer to peer

C. Jackson

Mental Health Today, Feb. 2008, p. 10-12

Intentional peer support was devised in the US by Shery Mead and is now being introduced into the UK. People with mental health difficulties are trained to form groups to help and support each other to 'get on with life' and 'move towards' what each wants in life. Support is reciprocal and offered for free. This article reports on the introduction of intentional peer support in Devon, where some suspect it is a cost cutting measure.

Stop passing the parcel

L. Khan

Community Care, Feb. 21st 2008, p. 22-23

A lack of accessible, joined-up and attractive community services has meant that young people and their carers have struggled to access mental health provision. Problems and behaviour have been left to worsen, leading to contact with youth justice agencies which are themselves often ill-equipped to provide the support that young people with mental health difficulties need. The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health calls for action in the community, including:

  • Earlier screening and intervention
  • Better integration of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, substance misuse services, social care and voluntary sector provision
  • Better support for young people with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders
  • Diversion of young people with mental health issues away from the justice system and the courts
  • Provision of community alternatives to custody for those with mental health problems
  • Provision of accessible, non-stigmatising and user-friendly mental health services to assist recovery.

Thrown into the mix

L. Hunt

Community Care, Feb. 21st 2008, p. 26-27

The Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), the Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection are to be merged to form the Care Quality Commission. MHAC wants to ensure that its work of visiting every psychiatric ward at least every 18 months and interviewing around 6,000 detained patients a year is maintained by the new organisation. In addition, it has called for the introduction of a duty for all mental health service providers to regularly inform the Care Quality Commission of serious and untoward incidents, as well as all admissions, discharges and deaths of patients.

Towards recovery competencies

N. Dorrer and M. Schinkel

Mental Health Today, Feb. 2008, p. 30-33

The recovery approach to mental health involves enabling patients to live well in the presence or absence of their mental illness. One of the ways in which more recovery-oriented practice can be taken forward in the mental health services is through the development of a framework of recovery competencies for staff. This means examining what knowledge, skills, and attitudes mental health workers need to aid people in their recovery. The project described in this article aimed to explore Scottish stakeholders' views on the essential competencies needed by mental health workers for the promotion of recovery, and whether and how these might be introduced in mental health education and training.

Valuing people now: from progress to transformation

Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships Directorate, Department of Health

London: DH Publications, 2007

This consultation on delivery of services for people with learning difficulties is aimed at updating the 2001 Valuing People White Paper. Performance indicators are being sought to ensure that services, including the NHS, are responsive to people's needs. Campus-style accommodation is to be progressively replaced with community-based services. The transfer of areas of commissioning from the NHS to social services is a central issue. The learning difficulty services workforce is also to come under detailed review.

(For comment see Health Service Journal, Feb. 7th 2008, p. 24-26)

Where should people with dementia live? Using the views of service users to inform models of care

L. Forbat and H. Wilkinson

British Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 36, 2008, p. 6-12

This paper reports on research that explores how people with a learning disability understand dementia and indicates the implications of these understandings for developing appropriate models of care. As this new policy and practice area struggles to provide appropriate models of care for people with a learning disability and dementia, an awareness of service users' understanding of dementia leads to a number of important insights, including that living with someone with dementia can be difficult and that staff do not always have time for the needs of other residents. Services should think more about how the presence of a person with dementia affects other residents in the home.

Who foots the bill: establishing responsibility for patient care

L. Eaton

Health Service Journal, Feb. 7th 2008, p. 12-13

There are concerns that practitioners are being told to delay sectioning people with urgent mental health needs until they have received approval for the funding of a hospital bed from a primary care trust. Problems can potentially occur where there is a dispute between two trusts about which is responsible for the person's care. The Department of Health has issued guidance on where the financial burden should fall in disputed cases.

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