08 October 2015
A decade of improving dignity
With 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 We have replaced outdated hospitals - including Barrow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
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
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.