After hearing mental health care was a key priority for local people, Healthwatch Surrey spoke to 70 individuals with recent personal experience of mental health care to help NHS and social care organisations better understand the needs of people living with mental ill-health.
The report also found that more problems stem from mental health services being unavailable, or not known about, than being ineffective. Patients and carers wish to understand the full range of help available, rather than simply being told by the NHS that ‘this is what we’ll do’.
Kate Scribbins, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Surrey said:
“We heard that when people and their carers are involved in care planning, people feel more satisfied with the support they receive and feel more confident in their long-term recovery from mental illness.
“As well as involvement in care plans, we heard how it’s the individuals providing care that have the biggest impact on how people feel about the care they receive. Continuity of care was extremely important to people receiving support. Many had experienced loss of trust and sense of wellbeing as a result of staff turnover.”
Other issues highlighted include:
- a lack of integration between mental health services and services focussed on physical health issues or impairments. (e.g. hearing loss has a mental health impact but treatment is predominantly on the physical aspects)
- carers can feel excluded from interactions between those they care for and care professionals
- poor experience of the ‘crisis line’, a helpline set up to assist those experiencing mental distress.
Ms Scribbins continued: “It is essential that service providers and commissioners now review their policies and strategies around how people are involved in care planning and crucially, how perceptions of this involvement are measured.
“When people feel involved in their care, they are more likely to get the best from the support they receive, helping them to feel stronger and be less likely to need more intensive help in the future, which is not only good for patients and carers but for the NHS too.”
Healthwatch Surrey will seek a response to the report and its recommendations from commissioners and providers for an Impact Report to be published later this year.
A copy of the report is available at https://www.healthwatchsurrey.co.uk/our-work/reports-and-papers/project-reports/
Anyone who would like to share their experience of an NHS or social care service can contact Healthwatch Surrey on 0303 303 0023 or email firstname.lastname@example.org