"The new ways of working Realising Potential promoted - co-production, intersectoral partnerships and collaboration, person-centred approaches and self-management - are very much in tune with the wider policy agenda."
Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson (centre) with representatives of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Tayside and Robert Gordon University involved in an innovative occupational therapy student-placement initiative. The Minister is seen holding Scotland's national AHP delivery plan, AHPs as Agents of Change in Health and Social Care.
Credit: NHS Tayside
Scotland has a dynamic health and care policy environment that focuses on our ambitions to deliver integrated health and social care, reduce or remove the damaging impacts of health inequalities and ensure the provision of safe, effective and person-centred care for everyone accessing health and care services. The strategic and operational contributions allied health professionals (AHPs) make to progressing this policy agenda is clearly set out in our national AHP delivery plan, AHPs as Agents of Change in Health and Social Care.
Mental health is a core component of this policy context, spearheaded by our Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015 and Scotland's National Dementia Strategy 2013−2016. Realising Potential, launched in 2010, explicitly set out the role AHPs can play in supporting people with mental health problems and their carers and improving mental health and well-being in Scotland.
The new ways of working Realising Potential promoted - co-production, intersectoral partnerships and collaboration, person-centred approaches and self-management - are very much in tune with the wider policy agenda. Notable successes have resulted in areas such as strengthening the links between mental health and physical health professionals, delivering psychological therapies and promoting vocational rehabilitation, with AHPs adopting a range of creative approaches that are enabling service users to maximise their potential and achieve their aspirations. In addition, Realising Potential has redefined AHP leadership in mental health and supported AHPs' contributions to the development and implementation of strategic initiatives in NHS boards and nationally.
Realising Potential has been a significant trailblazer for AHPs. It has brought all the different AHP disciplines in mental health together in common purpose, promoting understanding and respect for the contributions they each make to core mental health services and supporting people with mental health problems. It has encouraged multidisciplinary and multisectoral team-working and helped people to understand the added value AHPs bring to mental health services. It has helped AHPs working in physical health services to better understand the mental health impacts of physical conditions and the key contribution all AHPs can make to national and local initiatives aiming to support people with dementia and their carers. And it has allowed the narrative on AHPs' person-centred approaches to improving outcomes for people who use services to be expanded.
I have seen some of the evidence of service improvements driven by AHPs working with Realising Potential in visits I have made to NHS boards. I take great encouragement from the range, variety and versatility of the initiatives AHPs are taking forward to realise not only the potential of service users and carers, but also of AHPs themselves. This report captures some of these elements and outlines a way forward for the next three years. It stresses the importance of AHPs continuing to drive improvements for people with mental health problems and their carers, working closely with fellow AHPs in different areas and sectors of health and social care. The report concludes with a gaze forward into the future, building on the momentum created to ensure the benefits gained do not diminish or disappear, with members of the Strategic Mental Health AHP Leads Group defining their priority areas for action.
The action plan is completed, but the Realising Potential story is far from over. We have so much more to do, and so much more to give.
Michael Matheson, MSP
Minister for Public Health
"I have seen some of the evidence of service improvements driven by AHPs working with Realising Potential in visits I have made to NHS boards." Mr Matheson learns about a local collaborative initiative in NHS Grampian.
Credit: Kalyan Veera, Medical Illustration, University of Aberdeen
Email: Susan Malcolm
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