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Ensuring a recognised route for Carers and Service Users of Older People's Mental Health Services* to become involved in care planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation throughout the care system. Providing opportunities to get involved at all levels and in all ways.

*Older People’s Mental Health Services cover people of any age who suffer from dementia (such as Alzheimer’s Disease) or for people 65+ years who develop other forms of mental illness later in life (such as Depression or Anxiety).

What is Carer & Service User Involvement and why is it so important?

Carer and Service User Involvement is about making sure views from people who experience services (this includes carers) are heard, are acted upon and are used to change ways of working for the better. This would be in all areas of care from an individual’s first contact with services through to provision of services in general. Involvement should be seen in planning, carrying out, monitoring and evaluation of services throughout the care system.

Service Users often know what they need best and their Carers have a very good understanding of this too. In addition Carers, in their own right, have needs and again are the best people ask about what can be done to help them. Involvement by Service Users and Carers means services become more suited to the needs of those who use them and, by implication, make them more successful. It also shows their views are important and are acted upon.

The need for involvement is being recognised now more than ever and is a statutory requirement across health and social care agencies including the Council, Local Health Board and NHS Trust. All these bodies have made commitments to involve such people fully and have produced documents that reflect this.

What is happening in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan?

The Cardiff & Vale Mental Health Development Project has dedicated Development Workers who, in partnership with voluntary agencies and statutory services, support carers and service users to know about and have a voice in service planning and delivery. Matt Quinn covers the Cardiff area with Rajma Begum who specialises in involving people from the Black and Minority Ethnic Community, and Matthew Salisbury covers the Vale of Glamorgan. The Development Workers use many ways and means in involving people and are flexible and responsive in their approach. The Development Workers produce a monthly newsletter called Involvement News which is very helpful in providing information and opportunities for involvement.  In addition ‘Directions - a guide to Older People’s Mental Health Services’ has been developed which gives practical advice and useful support to carers of Older People with Mental Health needs.

What you can do

Involvement and development is an ongoing process. Information, suggestions and ideas are welcome from anyone who has experience in being a Service User, a Carer, a Care Worker or a Care Provider on ways in which involvement can be achieved and used. For example:

Service Users – what things would make a difference to your care?

Carers – are you experiencing any problems you need help with? What would help?

Care Workers – can you suggest ways in which Carers and Service User views can help you to do your job better?

Care Providers – are you including Service Users and Carers views in your provision planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation etc? Do you need some help to do this?

If you have any thoughts on developing involvement in Older People’s Mental Health Services then please get in touch. Your comments will be noted, used and feedback will be given. Small or big ideas are welcome and if you are a Service User or Carer there will also be opportunities to get involved in more practical ways (such as attending meetings, letter writing, group discussions etc) if you would like to.

Please contact us for more information, for a copy of Involvement News and/or Directions.

Matt Quinn & Matthew Salisbury

Cardiff & Vale Mental Health Development Project
Unit 11, Williams Court
Trade Street
CF10 5DQ

Tel: 029 2022 2000

Email: nexus@cvmhdp.org.uk