Headlines: October 13th, 2008

Mental Health service users and carers in Wales are being encouraged to play a greater part in the planning, development and delivery of services. The Welsh Assembly Government has published a new guide setting out people’s rights.

The guide has been developed in consultation with mental health experts including staff from Mind Cymru and health professionals as well as patients and their carers. It aims to build on the Assembly Government’s Mental Health National Services Framework and incorporates a Charter for service users and carer participation, setting out rights and responsibilities.

The guide also includes a ‘Good Practice Checklist and Monitoring Tool’, allowing service providers to assess their own performance and measure progress. There are also practical examples of cases where service users are involved in a number of initiatives.

The Assembly Government’s Health Minister, Edwina Hart, said one in four people in Wales would have a mental health problem at some stage in their life. The new guide recognised that while professionals always had to give their expert advice, it was the people who used services who were the experts on how they felt and how their care could be improved. “If service users and their carers are involved fully in decision-making it will lead to a better quality of life and the ability to live more independently,” she said.

Gareth Jones of Mind Cymru said the organisation wanted to see the guidance put into action. He added, “We are particularly looking forward to seeing mental health service users and carers being part of the planning and development of services at a time of change in the NHS.”