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Published : 13/02/2013 00:00

Improvements to mental health day services in Leeds

Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to approve recommendations to reconfigure council-run mental health day services at their meeting later this week.

The recommendations are the result of an extensive consultation with service users, and focus on the service becoming more recovery-led with the aim of keeping people well and giving them a more varied choice of support and activities.

The Mental Health Advisory Board was set up in March 2011 to ensure that the proposals for a modernised service were developed fully with service user and stakeholder participation. The role of co-chair was filled by a service user and the group had cross party membership.

The council currently operates traditional building based mental health day services in three bases across the city; Lovell Park, Stocks Hill and The Vale. Each centre has capacity for 60 people to attend every day, although the average daily attendance at each is approximately 25 people. Staff also offer outreach support to service users via telephone, email, texts, letters and visits.

Support is also provided via the community alternatives team (CAT), with staff based in the day centres. This team works across the whole city offering a range of activities to people with mental health needs such as a walking group, sporting activities, social and therapeutic groups, self-help and drop-ins.

In 2011, a detailed audit of how the service was used revealed that some groups, particularly younger people, do not engage with what is currently on offer. 276 service users were consulted, which revealed that although change is very challenging to many of them, they were willing to consider news ways of having their services delivered. The importance of having ‘safe space’ was highlighted by service users throughout the consultation.

A further consultation with service users took place from September to December 2012 based on a set of proposals for a new mental health recovery service, designed to support people along a path to recovery determined by each individual’s needs.

The proposals from this review include some changes to the current configuration of day centre bases as follows:
• Lovell Park will remain and become a mental health hub where co-working and hosting of other organisations takes place.
• Stocks Hill will remain, and share the building with other organisations
• The service currently based at The Vale will be re-located to Tunstall Road, as the Vale building is not suitable for the future direction of the service

In addition to this, staff will strive to develop flexible working relationships with all service users, improving their access to community resources whilst still offering access to a ‘safe space’.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for adult social care said:
“These proposals have been co-produced with the people that use our current mental health day services, and I want to thank them all for their help and contributions.

“The council’s resources are shrinking and we have to make sure that we are using what we have wisely. This means ensuring that the service is fully focused on achieving positive outcomes and recovery for our service-users.

“We have taken plenty of time to talk in length with service-users about the modernisation of this service, and if these recommendations are approved we will continue to be sensitive to people’s individual needs.

“I strongly believe that this programme of transformation will bring mental health care services in the city into the 21st century, and give us the opportunity to provide a more personalised approach for our service users, who remain our main priority.”

Norman Forsyth, service user and co-chair of The Mental Health Advisory Board is keen for mental health day services in Leeds to be innovative, forward thinking and vibrant; something people want to be part of. He said:
”I am confident that if the executive board report is agreed, that service users, management teams and staff will continue to work together to deliver a better and more modern mental health service in Leeds.”

Additional information

The community alternatives team (CAT)
The CAT has been in existence since 1996 and was originally designed to offer a complementary service to day centres, in recognition of the fact that not everybody with mental health problems would want or need to access a day centre.

It supports people to improve their mental health by helping them to put in place things we all take for granted, such as friendships, social activities, volunteering and taking steps to get back to work. Some groups are supported by staff and some are user-led with support from staff on a consultative basis. They frequently help people to join mainstream community groups eg. local walking groups.

Two recent success stories of people being supported by CAT are as follows:
One service-user accessed the weekly Muscels sport and activity group and as a result obtained one to one support to help him to apply for jobs and the encouragement to persist in completing for in excess of 100 applications. The service user has successfully gained paid employment.

One service user was frequently unaware of when they were becoming unwell and worked
with their key worker using cognitive behaviour therapy to develop tools to manage their
symptoms more effectively. They also gained the insight into their condition to develop a more stepped approach to their training and skills and how to keep themselves well.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk