Insight into community mental health care in 2017; a five part blog series
The publication of the 2017 Community Mental Health Survey, on 15 November 2017, offers some insights from over 12,000 people that use mental health services in England. Among other findings, the survey illustrates that many service users experience difficulties in accessing the care they need and when they need it.
In this final blog in our series, Chairman of Picker Stuart Bell CBE finds some common themes from the other blogs in our series, and considers what the results mean for person centred care.
Earlier this week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Picker published the NHS Community Mental Health Survey 2017. This year the survey received over 12,000 respondents, ensuring that it remains largest survey of the experiences of mental health service users in the UK.
As the Chairman of Picker and as the Chief Executive of a trust providing mental health services, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to fill in a survey. Your candid feedback allows us to understand how community mental health services are really serving our population.
Improving people’s experiences of mental health care is high on the Government’s agenda. It has been six years since the coalition government’s “No Health Without Mental Health” report first set out a commitment to “parity of esteem”, meaning that mental health would be given the same priority as physical health. This commitment has since been restated in recommendations from the independent mental health taskforce, which have been endorsed by Ministers.
In addition, in “Implementing the five year forward view for mental health”, NHS England committed to allocating more funding to deliver improved access to high-quality care, more integrated services and earlier interventions. This included areas such as acute and crisis care, and “liaison” mental health teams that support people being treated for physical health needs but also have mental health needs.
The Community Mental Health Survey, which Picker designs and coordinates on behalf of the Care Quality Commission, is an important and powerful tool that helps us see whether these ambitions are being realised – from the perspective of the people that use the services.
Our contributors for this blog series have all offered their own perspective on the findings, and have given frank insights into what the results mean for their respective beneficiaries.
Crisis care appeared to be an issue across the board. Of all the respondents who attempted to access out-of-hours crisis care services, 26% were not able to get the help they needed. For 18-25 year olds this percentage was even higher, with 40% not getting help when they needed it the most.
Several of our contributors also highlighted the difficulties their beneficiaries had in accessing care. Picker’s Tiffany Gooden and Chris Martin, CEO of The Mix highlighted that this issue would lead to increased demand in the years to come, as the young people struggling to access the help they need right now will only grow older without having received the attention and treatment they need.
It is essential that NHS providers have the capacity, time and budget in order to get the basics right. Improvements to services must be made in order to achieve high quality crisis care services and access to care both effectively and consistently.
Consistency of the services provided is also of concern; differences in experiences between groups of people with different mental health conditions became apparent. For example, while 25% of all service users felt they did not receive enough care to meet their needs; of the respondents that had a non-psychotic condition (eg. common mental health problems and non-psychotic chaotic and challenging disorders) 32% said they did not see NHS services enough for their needs.
There were some positive findings, such as service users’ families and loved ones being adequately involved in their care, and service users’ preferences being taken into account regarding their treatment. But the findings from the report show that more needs to be done to ensure that everybody using a community mental health service has the same, high quality, experience.
When service users speak freely about their experiences of care healthcare providers and policy makers can understand what matters most to them, no matter how difficult or sensitive the topic may be. The insight we gain from these interactions can help to improve the care people receives, and ensure that a system is designed around its users and their needs and preferences.
Picker is internationally renowned for our work in promoting person centred care. At the crux of this concept is the ability of healthcare staff, services and systems to take into account the whole life of the person who is receiving care. Ensuring that the service user is able to trust their caregiver and benefit from a positive therapeutic relationship is at the very heart of the Picker Principles, and it at the heart of people’s experiences of care.
Thank you to all of our contributors; Tiffany Gooden from Picker, Chris Martin from The Mix, Tom Gentry from Age UK, Vicki Nash from Mind, and Stuart Bell CBE from Oxford Health. For more information on this blog series, or on the Community Mental Health Survey 2017, please contact Picker Communications Manager Emma Newton firstname.lastname@example.org