Freda Lacey - Patients' Council Facilitator PAVO
Rhydian Parry - Patients' Council Volunteer
Penny Price - Felindre Ward Manager, Aneurin Bevin Health Board
John Liley - Patients' Council Volunteer
Kelvin Mills - Patients' Council Volunteer
Powys Patients' Council is a project funded through the Powys Mental Health Alliance (PMHA) and facilitated by the Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) and aims to give a voice to Powys residents wherever they are offered acute in-patient mental health services.
We hold regular, patient-only meetings which give people an opportunity to express their views on the services they receive whilst they are in hospital. These views are then passed on anonymously to ward and hospital management staff, in addition to senior Powys Teaching Health Board staff, so that solutions can be found.
We currently hold ward visits at Bronllys Hospital in South Powys and have links with Shelton Hospital (just over the border in Shrewsbury, England) in the North. It is the aim of the project to ensure closer links are made with Powys Patients in Shelton over the coming months. The Powys Patient’s Council does not deal directly with specialist or individual issues, but works by referral to advocacy services to ensure that patients receive the support they need.
Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) provides direction and support to Powys Patient’s Council by:
- Overseeing the arrangement of ward visits
- Co-ordinating feedback to the hospital staff, senior Powys Teaching Health Board management staff and ensuring that key issues are highlighted with the emphasis on changing policies and/or processes that do not support patient’s recovery
- Providing support and facilitation with the volunteers of the project who form the team
- Ensuring feedback and progress is reported back to the PMHA and the Powys Stronger in Partnership Network
Since October 2010 we have welcomed several new volunteers to the team. Kelvin, who has been with the Patient’s Council from the beginning and Janet's in-put has been vital to the success of the work we do. We have welcomed a new volunteer, Rhydian, who has joined the Patients' Council in March of 2013. All of the volunteers have a “lived experience” of acute mental health services.
Patient’s Council volunteer Janet Hopkins says "I’ve been a patient within the mental health service for many years. I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder since 1997 although I am no longer on any medication for it because I choose to self-monitor my ‘illness’.
I started to volunteer for Powys Patients' Council in December 2010. I heard about the Patients' Council through the Independent Advocacy Service from the Community Health Council. This is where I was encouraged to join the PPC as I took a great interest in learning about the mental health system. My knowledge up until December 2011 was self-taught as I had purchased my own books and magazines, gone to libraries and used the internet. I believe joining the PPC has enabled me to learn more about mental health law as it has given me opportunities to receive training that I would not have had if I was just a patient.
I hope I can be of good help to in-patients, as I have experienced what it is like to be in hospital myself."
We are the longest running Patients' Council model in the UK and hope to continue to provide this opportunity for participation for a long time to come. To make sure we are doing the best job we possibly can, we recently reviewed the progress of the Patients' Council to identify the ways in which we could improve.
The following changes are being made as a result:
- We are improving our feedback system to ensure that patients' views are heard by hospital managers and adequate time is given to discussing possible solutions.
- We have identified training needs and have had training sessions with a mental health advocacy to improve our understanding of advocacy and patient’s rights under the new Mental Health Measure.
- We are planning further training on subjects such as active listening skills, facilitation, and areas of relevant law.
- We updated our publicity materials and introduced feedback forms for the patients to report back anonymously on their ward experience.
The Stronger in Partnership network has offered us support through its commitment to involve people with lived experience of mental distress in the planning, designing, delivery and evaluation of mental health services.
The network can offer potential solutions to problems that may be outside the control of hospital staff, for example, by looking into alternative ways of accessing resources, or simply by sharing the skills and expertise that are so often found when working in partnership with like-minded people.
Would you like to hear more about the work of Powys Patients' Council?
If you are interested in volunteering with us or would like to be added to the mailing list to receive the minutes from our meetings, please contact Freda Lacey – Freda.Lacey@pavo.org.uk on 01597 822191 or 07941 626225.
2014 Meeting dates
17 February (Senior Management Meeting re Patients' Council)
Powys Mental Health Alliance - Headspace Autumn Edition. Article all about Patients Council by Freda Lacey here.
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