Headlines: May 17th, 2005

A special training scheme has begun in Bristol to ensure that all council home care workers can provide for people with a range of mental health problems including depression or dementia. The training is unique in targeting the city council’s Social Services and Health’s whole home care work force to build expertise across the service rather than creating a specialist team.The new Home Care Mental Health Support scheme trains staff to modify their work to respond to people’s mental health needs and to recognise when those needs are changing. Care Workers also get training in responding to challenging behaviour and in how to assess any risks involved in providing help as well as gaining understanding of some of the laws controlling mental health work.

The scheme is being funded by a grant from the Department of Health’s Performance Fund and the training is being provided in partnership with the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, which has supplied a Community Psychiatric Nurse to lead it and to provide support for home care workers away from formal training sessions. That can include one-to-one consultation on individual cases or accompanying care workers on their visits for observation and advice.

The training is designed to give home care workers the confidence and ability to provide better quality care for people with mental health problems and it aims to increase the length of time those people can be supported safely at home. This will mean savings through stopping inappropriate use of care home places.

Cathy Morgan, the Acting Head of Older People and Disabled Adults for Bristol City Council said the scheme had been funded for a year and they would be checking on its impact and evaluating other possible spin-offs that could include improved contact between mental health and home care teams and better care planning.

Andy Heron, Bristol Mental Health Services Manager for the NHS Trust said the scheme was in keeping with the close and positive partnership working that had developed between the Trust and Social Services in recent years.