Helping people to find their own voice – health and social care

Valley Voices in your local health and care services

An important part of health and social care policy in Wales is empowering people to find their own voice so they able to shape the services they require. This can be very important for what are often called marginal or hard to reach groups within the community. This may include people who require extra support to make their views and their needs clear to the providers of services.

(Dawn meeting representatives of the People First group in Merthyr Tydfil)

I have therefore read with interests the evaluations of the Valley Voices and Community Voices projects that ran in Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly coordinated through GAVO (Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations) and VAMT (Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil).These projects were sponsored by the Big Lottery.

There are many valuable lessons in these evaluations and it will be interesting to see whether the learning has been absorbed in to local practice, and how long the legacy has lasted for some of these projects. Some examples:

Royal Voluntary Service in Gwent ran a project that found 84 volunteers who donated 6836 hours of time to care homes:

“We were able to share good practice across care homes, of creating a culture of engaging with older people, which was very positive. This is likely to continue in those care homes”.

RVS write about the “identified standards expected of a ‘gold standard’ care home”. It will be interesting to see how this work has developed.

Caerphilly Borough MIND ran a voices for mental health project with Jill, manager saying “Through engagement with all our services we hope to motivate individuals to get involved and have their voices heard”.

“When individuals initially engage with Caerphilly Borough MIND they are supported to access the variety of services on offer; these include Community Well-Being, Counselling, Tenancy Support and Volunteer/Work related training. This helps alleviate many of the symptoms associated with poor mental health, raises confidence and builds their self esteem”.

In my recent roundtable discussion with local groups at VAMT these types of interventions were highlighted as being of great value, because the sooner an individual seeks support, and receives a speedy response, there is a reduction of overall pressure on the health and care system. A similar example is evidenced by MIND who delivered “Active Monitoring – a new mental health service for primary care in Wales”. This includes the evidence from Dr Simon Dobson who states “The ability to pass them on to someone who can help is fabulous for me – I save time and the patient gets a better outcome – quickly”.

I look forwards to a meeting with both providers and users of local mental health services to hear more about the importance of these types of projects.

I also recently met with the newly reformed People First project in Merthyr Tydfil. While their organisation may fit in with the Cwm Taf footprint it was useful to hear about their work in supporting people with learning disabilities to enable them to engage in discussion with service providers.

So just a flavour of some evidence I have received around empowerment, co-production and supporting people in our communities to receive services that meet their needs.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION: These are your local health and care services so please let me know your ideas. Take the survey on my facebook page or write to me at 110 High Street, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 8AP.

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