Agenda item

Adult Social Care Mental Health Services


The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director, Communities, which gave Members an update and sought their views on the potential developments within the Council’s social care provision for adult mental health services.


The Board was advised that there were currently two services provided by Halton Borough Council for residents with complex mental health needs: the mental health social work service, based at the Brooker Unit in Runcorn, and the Mental Health Outreach Team, based in the Mental Health Resource Centre in Vine Street, Widnes.


The Board was advised that the model of service delivery described in the report had been in place for many years, and had achieved positive outcomes for many people. However there had been a number of changes, both in terms of national policy and local service delivery, which have meant that the ways in which the services were delivered needed to be reconsidered. The changes included:-


  • New national policy guidance which stressed the extent to which people could be supported to recover from severe mental illness;


  • In the same national guidance, there was a strong emphasis on the need to develop services which prevented mental health conditions, or which intervened at a much earlier stage to stop them from getting worse;


  • The decision of the Halton Health and Wellbeing Board to treat mental health as a key local priority;


  • Changes in the way key partner organisations deliver services;


  • Increasing numbers of people being assessed for detention under the Mental Health Act; and


  • Changing demands on the services from other partners, such as children’s services, who needed support with families with complex needs where there may be a mental health problem and the police, who need appropriate community support for people who might otherwise enter the criminal justice system.


The Board was further advised that within the social work service, the recent development of the Acute Care Pathway within the 5Boroughs had meant that the 5Boroughs now focused its work only on the people with the most complex needs and levels of risk. As a result of this, the social work caseloads had fallen, although other work, such as Mental Health Act assessments, had increased considerably, in line with national patterns.


It was reported that there was now some capacity within the team to develop a small service which works more directly with people who are known only to primary care services and who had not been referred to specialist hospital mental health services. One of the social workers already undertakes some of this work, working with people who are referred by a range of agencies who might be at risk without support, and a proposal was to be prepared to extend this service, using existing resources. In addition, it was reported that this approach would build on some ongoing work within the Mental Health Outreach Team, and which would be the subject of a more detailed report to the Board.


Furthermore, it was reported that there had been some effective work by partner agencies to ensure that people with mental health needs were managed within the correct care pathways, rather than being inappropriately engaged with the police service. An exercise known as Operation Emblem had achieved very positive results in reducing the numbers of people in Halton who had been detained under Section 136 Mental Health act 1983.  A more detailed report on this would be presented to the Board at a future meeting.


In conclusion, it was reported that related to this, work was currently taking place with Warrington Borough Council to extend a successful service in that area into Halton. “Support 4 Change” which was a treatment based approach which aimed to divert people from custody where appropriate, reduce risk of re-offending, and improve emotional health and general wellbeing.


The following comments arose from the discussion:-


·             It was noted that mental health illness could hinder individuals gaining employment.  It was also noted that many people with a mental health illness undertook meaningful things in their lives, but it was not necessarily classed as employment;


·             The Board noted the significant amount of work that had been undertaken in Halton in respect of people with learning difficulties gaining employment and operating their own business; and


·             The Board noted that the Brooker Centre now had eleven social workers and some outreach workers and that except for emergencies, the bed service and out patient services was used for the residents of Halton;


RESOLVED: That the report and comments raised be noted.

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