Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The BAT Project in North Wales

Staff from the Ablett Unit in Rhyl with voluntary sector agencies including Vale of Clwyd Mind, Unllais,
Therapy Dogs Nationwide and Twix the dog.
I recently found out about a new partnership project in North Wales called BAT - Bringing Agencies Together. It's all about supporting people who have been in contact with mental health services, specifically hospital, and bridging that gap between leaving the ward and returning to the community.

The BAT Project has been running in the two neighbouring counties of Conwy and Denbighshire for just over a year now. It is a massive geographical area to cover, taking in the sandy beaches of the North Wales coast from Llandudno across to Prestatyn, and sweeping south across parts of the Snowdonia National Park, east into the Clwydian Hills and right down to Llangollen. On its southern edge Denbighshire borders Powys, so we can definitely count the locals there as our near neighbours! 

Hannah Luhde-Thompson (4th from left in photo) is the Improvement and Partnerships Development Officer at Unllais, the mental health development, involvement, information and training agency covering North Wales (our sister agency in the North!) She told me more about the initiative:

Service users at the Ablett Unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Rhyl are being supported in their recovery and return to the community thanks to an innovative multi-agency group. The Bringing Agencies Together (BAT) project supports patients in identifying activities and groups which can help them in the transition back into their local community and continue to promote their health and wellbeing. We formed the BAT group (patients in the unit chose the name) in early 2016 and it has been a very successful, multi agency partnership. 

The project is a collaboration between the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board staff (including Ablett based Occupational Therapists, Clinical Psychologist, and Home Treatment and ward staff), the North Wales mental health development agency Unllais, and Vale of Clwyd Mind, service user and carer representatives, as well as a range of community groups and charities from throughout Conwy and Denbighshire. The occupational therapists from the unit lead the group, but the service user & carer rep on the group played a big part in pulling it all together. 

The BAT group organises community groups to facilitate therapeutic sessions jointly with staff as part of the patient therapeutic programme. These include shared reading delivered by the library service, taster sessions run by the Women’s Centre in Rhyl, massage sessions run by the Red Cross, therapy dog sessions supported by the Therapy Dogs Nationwide and courses run by Llandrillo College to commence in May of this year.

The project group also held two open events in July and November of last year to support patients once discharged back into the community. The project welcomed Conwy and Denbighshire based groups, clubs and organisations to the unit to showcase activities available to service users and their carers out in the community.

More than 24 groups, including Conwy Community Wellbeing Team, Men’s sheds, and Denbighshire Walking For Health, attended the event to provide information on how to sign up to their activities.

The aim was to showcase community activities to service users, as well as their families and carers. It has been really helpful, enabling people to continue pursuits which support their health and wellbeing. The two events were true networking and celebration events and have connected many people in the unit to groups in the community. I frequently hear from third sector colleagues who attended the events that they have since linked with people when they go home! 

Feedback following the open events:

'Everyone was really friendly and approachable.'

'I think all the organisers and volunteers have done an excellent job today.'

'Excellent day, really inclusive and positive. In line with the Social Services & Wellbeing (Wales) Act, partnership working and integration,' - someone from the Community Mental Health Team.

'Wonderful event bringing services together. Promoting wellbeing.'

We were really keen that people were aware of the things available AND they could meet a friendly face from the organisation and understand what to expect if approaching the organisation when they got home.

In Powys Mandy Pearce works as a Reablement Worker with Mid Powys Mind to help support people in transition from hospital back to the community. Mandy also works very closely with the statutory provider of health services, in this case, Powys Teaching Health Board, and other third sector groups.  We would love to hear what you think about initiatives like these in the comments box below.

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