Thursday, 27 March 2014

Powys voices count at the top

We are often asked how people can use their own experiences to influence change – whether that be in the way mental health services are provided in Powys or indeed the laws which govern how people experiencing mental distress are treated in Wales and even the UK as a whole.

Recently, two perfect examples of exactly how this is happening came to light, and we thought it would be useful to share these with a wider audience. Hopefully the experiences of these two Powys residents will not only influence future change, but also inspire others to come forward and volunteer to contribute. The more voices we hear the better!

Our role in the mental health team at PAVO is to ensure that these voices are well and truly heard by people in the position to do something with what they hear. Powys Teaching Health Board fund PAVO to do this participation work and my colleague Freda Lacey, Participation Officer in our team, has played a pivotal role in this work.

So, to the two local people concerned, Jan and Rhydian. Freda updated me about their two ground-breaking roles:

“Jan Rogers and Rhydian Parry gained membership on two key executive committees linked to Welsh and English government movements for change.

Jan is the only Welsh member reviewing the Mental Health Code of Practice in England. This work is being led by the Department of Health and backed by the Minister for Health, Norman Lamb.

Rhydian is the youngest Welsh speaking member of the prestigious National Mental Health Partnership Board, implementing the Mental Health (Wales) Measure. This engagement work is endorsed by Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Care.

The changes being proposed will have wide reaching impact for other citizens across both countries.”

Jan Rogers - Newtown

Jan has been a trustee at Ponthafren Association for many years and has won awards for her extensive volunteering contribution. Her work as a member of the Expert Reference Group reviewing the Mental Health Code of Practice has enabled her to meet with people directly affected by the “Winterbourne View” which is an underlying part of the review. In helping shape the new code of practice, which will be published shortly, Jan has voiced her views on the following areas:
  • Restraint. 
  • “Sectioning” by the Police and how detention takes place. 
  • How the Mental Health Act could work better with the Mental Health Capacity Act around deprivation of liberty issues. 
Dr. Nicola Guy, Department of Health, said:
“I was really interested and impressed by Jan’s contributions in the meetings and very grateful that she was prepared to be so open about her experiences. Her cross border insights have been particularly useful as a Powys resident, who sometimes has had to receive services in Shropshire.”

Rhydian Parry - Brecon

Rhydian recently wrote about his experience volunteering with Powys Patients Council – Life on the ward: the patient’s voice. He underwent a rigorous selection process to be chosen as one of only four individuals (with lived experience of mental distress) to sit on both the National Mental Health Partnership Board, and the Local Mental Health Partnership Board in Powys. You can read more about the process of his selection last Autumn in Freda’s post Citizen Power, Active Participation.

The National Mental Health Partnership Board is responsible for implementing the “Together for Mental Health” strategy across Wales. It is multi-agency, multi-disciplinary and involves a range of public bodies and voluntary sector services, for instance, housing, education, health and social care. Its aim is to drive an holistic strategy for mental health for the citizens of Wales over the next three years.

Siân Richards, Strategy Lead for Mental Health and Vulnerable Groups Division of the Welsh Government said:
“We are delighted to have Rhydian as a crucial member of the Board, particularly with his unique insights as a young person having to transition into adult mental health services, his Welsh speaking skills, and his experiences of being detained and restrained under the Mental Health Act. He clearly has a strong desire to represent the voice of people who are in receipt of mental health services and his contribution to the Board is invaluable”.

Carol Shillabeer, Chair of the Powys Partnership Board, said:
“It is really valuable to have Rhydian and the other individual representatives on our local partnership board as their insights, guidance and critiques are helping us drive changes in Powys Mental Health Services which ensure that “service users and carers” are at the very heart of the services we commission.”

Some of the immediate results of Jan and Rhydian’s active participation:

  • PAVO has been invited to help ensure that Jan and others are invited to be part of the Welsh Mental Health Code of Practice Review that Minister Mark Drakeford has recently announced. 
  • Rhydian is being invited to participate in key National and Regional Police initiatives looking at how people are handled by the Police whilst experiencing mental distress. 
Want to know more about these initiatives and citizen engagement? Just ask your question below, or contact Freda by emailing or call 01597 822191.

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