Thursday, 11 February 2010

Service User Involvement and Empowerment in Mental Health

On Tuesday I had the new experience of being chair at a conference. It was run by HealthCare Events and was entitled 'Service User Involvement and Empowerment in Mental Health'.
The venue was the luxurious 76, Portland Place, London.

The day opened with Tina Coldham, chair of NSUN National Service User Network
She used a powerful quote by Margaret Mead - 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has'.
As service users, she suggests, we need a 'can do' attitude to make a positive difference.

 Next we listened to the amazing, inspirational Lindy Irving, who powerfully told us of her recovery from severe depression. I liked her quote from George Iles that 'hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark'.

Sue Harris and Sue Pinfold Brown followed with an interesting look at how Worcestershire are embedding service user involvement in mental health commissioning and whole service redesign. I agreed with their dislike of the term 'service user' which they are replacing with 'Individual with Experience' (IWE). They also  have a focus group entitled SEPIA - sharing experience for positive improvement and awareness.

Judy Weleminsky from the Mental Health Providers' Forum along with a IWE Nash, showed how the Recovery Star programme can be used so effectively, as it focuses on progress not problems and treats the person as a whole. See the outline here

Leroy Simpson was the next character to be on the platform - another example of poor mental health can be overcome. He described his personal journey and the work he has done with St. Mungos with homeless people . He spoke about embracing diversity which he described as being heard, respected, celebrated, informed and inspired. The delegates were!

After an excellent lunch the afternoon resumed with a presentation by David Gilbert, also a IWE who has become an involvement lead.   He is developing a 'College for Patient Leaders' (TM) to provide flexible, accredited learning programmes for patient and community activists, representatives and entrepreneurs.

Next Daisy Bogg, Director of Social Care and specialist Services, Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Social Care Partnership NHS Trust spoke about 'Service User involvement for personalisation in mental health'.
More details on personalisation can be found here  

The penultimate speaker was Lindsey Dyer, the Director for Service Users and Carers at Mersey Care NHS trust, who spoke about 'beyond involvement: promoting human rights'. 

The final speaker left us motivated and inspired - Dr. Marian Naidoo
She showed us a video of a course which had been run for service users, carers and professionals together, followed by footage about Sing Your Heart Out - a series of workshops designed to get people together to enjoy themselves, and to gain the known benefits to mental health from singing.

During the day there were also some workshop sessions running involving Anne Beales from Together ; Fiona Veneer, Project manager of Leeds Survivor led Crisis Service ; Zelda Peters, Director of Mental Health Turning Point and Ann Mooney from SUNSwindon,

The day was full of information and I hope these links are useful to those who wish to involve people in their care of their mental health and services.

Also as chair I learned a big lesson - the importance of a speaker finishing on time!!!

Elaine Hanzak

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