I remember when colleagues across the voluntary sector, SLaM, public health, GPs, service users and carers all met for the very first time at 8.00 for breakfast in Abbeyvilles Restaurant in Clapham in June 2010 – about 20 people in total. This was the first meeting of the Living Well Collaborative. We were all there because we wanted to radically change how we could support service users with mental health needs, and we knew that we had to rethink how we all worked together.
We wanted to take the ‘mental’ out of mental health and wanted Lambeth to see people as people, not just as someone with a mental health problem but someone with skills and abilities to support themselves within the community in which they live, and to actively contribute to that community.
There has been lots of good work that has been achieved so far. November 18th is so significant as for the first time we are co-ordinating all this work into a system wide response in North Lambeth. From 18th November we:
- Will have one front door to access mental health services, which is not categorised by diagnosis as now
- Will be able to help people earlier as we will be able to assist people with social crises which can make their mental health worse.
- Will be able to respond more quickly, and offer up to a 12 week ‘Assessment, Action and Planning’ type of support. This means that we will be able to draw on community resources more quickly and be able to work more intensively and in a more personalised way. We will also be able to facilitate people to make more community connections to help them stay well.
- Will have 24 hour access to information, offering drop in, email, web based and telephone advice so that people are signposted to the right service.
This is only the first step in what we want to do. We want:
- To support GPs more practically to work with people with mental health needs
- People to be able to access services themselves rather than being ‘referred’ by professionals.
- People to be supported in their communities whenever possible and not get stuck in a secondary care mental health system
- People to have more choice about where they access support
This means that we are continually wanting to get better. We want to hear from everyone about their experiences of either giving or receiving support.
I hope that this website becomes a key tool in facilitating this and becomes a central point to where people can access news of what is going on, be able to express views of what is working well, what we need to improve and give ideas as to how you or your team/service could work differently.
We are still meeting as a Collaborative for breakfast once a month, and have engaged with over 1,700 people along the way to help develop this system redesign. I have changed as a result, in both what I think and how I work with providers to change what we do together. I hope that you are inspired to be part of this journey too.