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Together’s response to Schizophrenia Commission report

Posted on 15, November 2012

In response to some of the issues raised in the The Abandoned Illness report released by The Schizophrenia Commission, Michael Smith, Transformation Lead at Together says:

Through our work with commissioners and our service users to identify local need for individuals experiencing severe and enduring mental illness, we too have found that there remains an unfilled service gap between acute and high-intensive secure support and community settings.

“This issue is particularly heightened for individuals with additional complex needs. For example, there are cases where people are discharged from ‘out-of-area’ intensive care units straight into local communities that are far from their homes, families and social networks, making community reintegration almost impossible.

We need to avoid catapulting people ‘cold-turkey’ into the community and fuelling the revolving-door-cycle of acute illness and admission. Instead we need to provide people with a clear recovery pathway right through from hospital ward and intensive care to independent living, with ‘in between’ services at each juncture along their individual journey, to support this transition.

“Together is in the midst of transforming our residential community services to offer individuals a graduated ‘step-down’ service from 24-hour intense level support to independent community living. The new approach echoes the ethos of our flexible, community based Your Way service, bringing personalisation into our housing services. Our pilot scheme, for example, is offering a ‘recovery voucher system’ where service users can use their vouchers to plan and book-in specific activities or time with staff, to fulfill a specific goal within their personal recovery plan. This aims to prepare individuals to eventually progress to the use of a personal budget once they move on to independent living.

“This new service will also provide support to individuals with complex needs and a history of offending, who come from very restrictive settings outside of their locality and often have nowhere to move on to.

“We want to support individuals from high-level support settings like hospitals and secure units to move back into their local communities and have choice and control over the support they receive.”