People living with mental health issues to see improved services across Birmingham
Following a recent Healthwatch Birmingham investigation, service users living with mental health issues should see improvements to the level of care and service quality when accessing community mental health services.
Our investigation to improve mental health services for service users in Birmingham reports the issues we have heard from services users, carers and professionals in the community supporting those people about the Zinnia Centre: an Integrated Community Care and Recovery service. Run by Birmingham and Solihull NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT), the centre supports local people living with functional mental health issues. As a result, the service is now offering better service user choice to access medication, are upgrading their communication systems and providing better follow up care to ensure service user safety and wellbeing is prioritised.
Following feedback from service users and carers about the Zinnia Centre, Healthwatch Birmingham worked with local organisations to hear more about the level of care quality experienced by vulnerable people using the service. The Zinnia Centre provides important services such as assessment, specialist support and care planning for local people.
We heard that that service users were impacted by poor medicine management and access to appropriate medication, the inflexibility of pick up times and the dispensing of wrong medication. Professionals in the community told us about the difficulties trying to phone the Zinnia Centre, getting timely responses and accessing follow up care if appointments were missed. Our investigation also reports that service users experienced poor staff attitude, unsafe discharge and difficulty with mental health assessments.
Improving service quality for people
BSMHFT looked into this feedback and as a result the Zinnia Centre is now offering alternative options for people to collect their medication if they can’t make their drop-in clinics. The report also highlights plans to upgrade their telephone and communications systems to improve access for service users, better follow up by clinicians to ensure service users who do not attend appointments are safe and well, better appointment systems and better testing processes for specialist medication. Importantly, they are also sharing the learning from this investigation with their other services across the city.
Mary Elliffe, Associate Director for Urgent Care at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust welcomes feedback from organisations such as Healthwatch Birmingham. From the feedback we received, we were able to be clear about the actions required to improve service users’ and carers’ experiences of our services. This is incredibly valuable, as the greatest measure of our success in responding to people’s needs is their feedback, both positive and negative, to create the change that is required.”
Jane Upton, Head of Evidence at Healthwatch Birmingham led on the investigation: “Our report highlights the importance of good quality care in communities for vulnerable people living with a mental health need. We are delighted that the Trust has outlined clear plans to improve the level of service quality based on feedback from service users, the public and professionals. Healthwatch Birmingham will be tracking the progress of these plans – it is key we continue to hear from service users about their experiences of Integrated Community Care and Recovery services to ensure improvements are in place, and benefiting service users across the city.”