08 October 2015

A decade of improving dignity

b/a250With a global theme of 'dignity' for this year's World Mental Health Day on 10 October, we take a look back at what AWP has done over the last ten years to improve dignity for people using our services.

Over the last decade our buildings have changed beyond recognition. We have replaced outdated hospitals - including Barrow and the Victoria Hospital - with purpose-designed buildings co-designed by mental health professionals, service users and carers. The decade has seen an end to almost all remaining 'Nightingale' dormitory-style wards and today, nearly everyone using our inpatient services stays in single, en-suite bedrooms. Many wards are also able to provide separate male and female areas. And as knowledge and understanding of mental health develops and services change, and we need our buildings to work in new and different ways, our estates and facilities team continually work to improve our therapeutic environments.

The facilities team has also made big changes to food for inpatients over the last decade to meet more religious, cultural and dietary needs and offering service users unprecedented choice and quality.

Being able to remain at home often offers greater dignity than hospital admission. The development of crisis and home treatment services and recovery teams mean that more people are more likely to remain at home, or return home sooner, than a decade ago. For many people this means less disruption to daily and family life.

Mental health is relevant to everyone - we are all on a sliding scale of better or worse mental health, albeit some of us experience greater and more frequent extremes than others. Mental health services should therefore be part of, not separate from, local communities. Working with more people in their own homes and other community settings of their choice is part of that. But it is also about educating and skilling other health and social care professionals, employers and others in the community and AWP has taken a big step in this direction in the last ten years.

AWP's memory services now work much more closely with GPs and voluntary sector services to support earlier diagnosis in familiar surroundings and to support people to live positively - and with dignity - with dementia.

The BASS autism spectrum services in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire were developed by a group of passionate AWP staff during the last decade. BASS offers consultation and supervision to frontline staff across the care pathway, improving their ability to work effectively and efficiently with people with autism and enabling services to understand how to support, communicate with and recognise the strengths of this client group. The service also works directly with adults with autism and their families, supporting individuals to access a range of appropriate mainstream services. In short, BASS has a hugely positive impact on the dignity of people affected by autism.

Just occasionally there are priorities - for example safety or the requirements of the Mental Health Act - that we have to consider above dignity. But we are proud of the improved dignity of those in our care and we hope that 10 years from now we will be looking back at an equally significant range of improvements to dignity for all those who use our services both in our hospitals and in local communities.

Cookies on our website

Cookies are used to ensure you get the best browsing experience. No personally identifiable information is collected.
By using our site you agree to these cookies being used. For more information please see our Cookie Policy.