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Creating mental health champions

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Healthwatch was asked by an older man in ill health, and his daughter (the main carer), to support them in their difficulties with the community health team. His poor health was resulting in repeated hospital admissions and he had Nursing and Domiciliary Care Agencies supporting him at home with several visits throughout the day.

His daughter felt a responsibility to supervise and engage with the care package, which led to growing conflict with the care providers. The relationship broke down to the extent that the lead professional notified the father that services were at risk of being withdrawn and that no alternative provider could be identified. The daughter had a range of complaints about the care coming in but the focus of the complaint was on the perceived threat of removal of service and criticism of her behaviour, which was being described as aggressive and verbally abusive to staff. The conflict and breakdown in relationship with father and daughter resulted in a failure to listen to the daughter and acknowledge her history of mental health difficulties, these were pronounced and included periods of hospital admission and section under the mental health act. The care services had become defensive and entrenched unable to communicate effectively or respond flexibly.

Healthwatch’s involvement highlighted the level of threat that the gentleman and his daughter were experiencing, the daughter’s reaction to her father’s declining health and end of life approaching.

Healthwatch identified the mental health difficulties that the daughter was experiencing and her growing anger that this was not being listened to, and that she was being labelled as badly behaved. The Trust delivers Community Adult Mental Health Services but no connection was being made with their generic primary community care teams. Healthwatch advocated that the family were being threatened and that the daughter, carer, needed additional mental health support, and that the Trust already had the specialist services.

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By early intervention on the complaint and joint working with the investigating officer the daughter’s mental health needs became part of the care plan and package. The Trust acknowledged that mental health training and development should be developed and easier access to supporting mental health specialists. This has become a commitment to identify Mental Health Champions within the Trust’s Community Care Services and the learning from this was shared by Healthwatch when invited to the Trust’s Clinical Governance meeting.

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2016-10-31T13:35:05+00:00