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Review of Mental Health and Wellbeing services in Guernsey and Alderney

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Tuesday 04 October 2022

David Gedze, Mental Health Social Worker, has published his second review of Mental Health and Wellbeing Services in Guernsey and Alderney.

This follows his review carried out in 2018 which determined:

'Guernsey has good mental health services which in many ways are as good as, or better, than those in most countries in the world. The services are well resourced, providing a wide range of clinical interventions to meet the needs of the population. There are very low waiting times, a sufficient number of in-patient beds and a focus on the physical health and wellbeing of patients.'

The second report includes findings from interviews with various stakeholders, service users, family members, States of Deliberation members and third sector providers along with an assessment on progress made since his initial visit in 2018 (full objectives are set out on page 6 of the published report). This second report looks at all mental health and wellbeing services on island and not just specialist services delivered by Health & Social Care.

Mr. Gedze said:

'Mental health and wellbeing services in the Bailiwick are well resourced but I have identified some duplication in areas and gaps in others. Guernsey also benefits from a rich network of voluntary sector organisations that provide services in addition to the statutory services provided by the States of Guernsey.

As I expected, the experiences of service users and their families varied with some people feeling that services had failed them completely. Others had more positive or mixed experiences.

I am pleased to see that all the recommendations I made in 2018/2019 have been implemented or are underway (with only those delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic outstanding).'

As with physical health conditions, the scale of mental health conditions varies widely from someone needing support with their mental wellbeing to someone in a significant mental health crisis that needs immediate and specialist care. Where physical health conditions are referred to the consultants at the Medical Specialist Group when the patient needs specialist treatment, the same is true with our mental health services. They are specialist services for severe and enduring cases. That is a very important point that we are keen for the community to hear and for which we are seeking everyone's understanding.

Mr. Gedze has made a strong recommendation to rebrand the current statutory services based at the Oberlands - this is fully supported by the Committee for Health & Social Care and from 4 October these services will be known as Guernsey Specialist Mental Health Services.

He said:

'The services based at the Oberlands provide a highly specialised time-limited service for people with the most complex needs and those experiencing an acute crisis. This is appropriate and is what the States of Guernsey should be providing for Guernsey and Alderney, but there is sometimes an assumption amongst islanders that these services should be providing support for all mental health needs. This is not the case and, in my view, not necessary.'

Service users will begin to see the new branding 'Guernsey Specialist Mental Health Services' around the Oberlands building, on the web and in correspondence from 3 October 2022.

Deputy Al Brouard, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care said:

'On behalf of the Committee I would like to thank Mr. Gedze for another comprehensive review of our mental health and wellbeing services.

As a Committee we are acutely aware of the range of views on the provision of mental health services. Mental health and wellbeing services represent an extremely challenging area of work. We employ around 250 dedicated staff who provide services to around 1,850 service users. For these staff it is a true vocation, and we must not underestimate the complexity, difficulty and stress of providing mental health services generally, but especially within a small community.

Whilst Mr. Gedze has identified further recommendations, I am pleased to note that staff in this service area have put in place (or plans are in progress) measures to address the recommendations Mr. Gedze made in 2018.  We will continue to work with senior staff to support them in implementing the remaining recommendations as soon as they are able.'

Mr. Gedze has done a fantastic job working with colleagues to build and develop a Mental Health & Wellbeing Services Map which clearly shows the breadth and depth of services provided in the Bailiwick, alongside the statutory provision, by independent and third sector providers.

We do have good Mental Health services as an Island and all providers will do their best to help their patients.  Mental health is a difficult and challenging area both for staff and patients and we need to do all we can to support both.'

An action plan has also been published detailing the recommendations made by Mr Gedze along with the actions that have been taken or are in progress. Addressing just some of these recommendations:

Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy Group - The recommendation to refresh the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy group for Guernsey and Alderney is one that we strongly support. This group, which was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be essential in addressing the gaps identified in the service mapping exercise and considering how we fill those gaps. We have already identified the core membership for this group and the first meeting will take place in Q4 this year. The Steering Group will also include someone with lived experience. This will provide the group with real experience and insight from someone who has used our services. Expressions of interest will be sought for this member in due course.

Clear communication and information for those accessing mental health services - The States of Guernsey has an overall responsibility for Mental Health services in the Bailiwick. However, Mental health support is not provided solely by the States of Guernsey; the Island has the services of Primary Care, Healthy Minds and third sector charities such as Guernsey Mind and Guernsey Counselling Services, which support a large number of individuals who do not require SOG services.

Signposting islanders to appropriate services (delivered by HSC - including Healthy Minds, Primary Care, Private entities and the third sector) and being clear regarding access to Guernsey Specialist Mental Health Services is essential. We also know that clear communication and information for people (and their families) accessing our services for the first time is essential. We have already begun to work on material to help with this and hope to work with service users and their families to ensure it is appropriate and relevant.

HSC would like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and experiences of Guernsey and Alderney mental health and wellbeing services with Mr. Gedze.

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Review of Mental Health and Wellbeing services in Guernsey and Alderney - October 2022

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