Driving Improvement: Implementing Realising Potential

This document reflect on the progress that has been made through implementation of the Realising Potential policy and considers how the future should be shaped. It captures the reflections of some key players who have been instrumental in visioning, developing and implementing the policy.

Realising Potential - where now?

Realising Potential has inspired many successes, as this report and others published since the action plan's introduction have shown. With the action plan now formally completed, it is important that we continue to focus on how AHPs in mental health and, indeed, those in all services can continue to drive forward improvements for service users and carers.

Our experience and the stories in this report show that the strategic leadership Realising Potential put in place has been a great facilitator of progress, with AHP mental health leads harnessing their energy and commitment to drive its implementation. We must ensure this strong leadership ethos within the allied health professions continues to thrive and develop.

The underpinning principles set out earlier in this report are being realised in practice through a range of developments. There is clear evidence of progress in relation to vocational rehabilitation, care of people with dementia and their families, psychological therapies, adopting recovery, strengths and asset-based approaches, and in promoting the physical health of people with mental health problems.

Realising Potential has had an impact beyond mental health services as interventions to address the psychological effects of long-term conditions and chronic pain become a standard part of the AHP offer in physical health services. We have witnessed new and strengthened partnerships as AHPs in mental health develop collaborations and alliances with service users, carers, the organisations that support them and a wide range of services and agencies beyond the health sector.

We must now aim to build on these achievements to create even greater success.

We will turn our focus to early interventions and timely access, a core component of AHPs as Agents of Change in Health and Social Care, our national delivery plan. This will involve AHP teams identifying new ways of working with partners to facilitate early access and reviewing existing working patterns to ensure they are available when service users need them.

As Jacqui Lunday Johnstone in her introduction and June Wylie in her reflections on Realising Potential describe, measuring impact is difficult, but absolutely essential. We will continue to collect stories and evidence from service users and carers as a means of finding out what works for them, closely protecting their confidentiality in the process, but will be more assiduous in capturing these stories and sharing good practice through national, regional and local networks.

We will progress work already begun to standardise assessment methods and tools[3] across AHP services in Scotland, including those that focus on areas such as psychological therapies, dementia care and vocational rehabilitation. This will enable us to measure the impact of specific treatments or interventions and share data to drive improvement by evidencing best practice.

We need to develop a mechanism for measuring the economic impact of AHP interventions. Evaluations have already been completed with the support of specialist expertise in NHS Fife, NHS Tayside and nationally in relation to dementia, and we now need to apply that economic intelligence to all the work we do as AHPs.

We will build our research capacity and capability, working in common purpose with university partners to ensure AHP research remains focused on issues that are important to service users and carers. Closely linked to this is the need to increase our knowledge and skills in improvement methodology, enabling AHPs to make a greater contribution to strengthening services in NHSScotland. Improvement advisers are already working with mental health teams as part of implementation of the Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015 and Scotland's National Dementia Strategy 2013−2016.

We will continue to promote the inclusion of AHPs and enable them to share their experiences and learning with colleagues throughout mental health services.

An evidence-based policy document outlining the contribution of AHPs to an integrated community model (the eight-pillars model) in dementia will be published by the Scottish Government in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland in spring 2015. We will support the development and implementation of this work, linking with colleagues in physical health care and social work services.

The implementation of Realising Potential has enabled AHPs in mental health to align their priorities with national strategic drivers. It provided a platform to support and inspire creative local delivery and encouraged all AHPs to participate in shaping local and national agendas. The Strategic Mental Health AHP Leads Group has played a key role in communicating national policy aspirations to local services and continuation of this group will ensure maximisation of the AHP contribution to future mental health service and policy development.

More than anything, we will continue to listen to the stories and narratives of mental health service users, people with dementia and their carers to ensure that the services we provide remain person-centred and meet people's needs as they define them.

We, our fellow AHP mental health leads and AHP consultants remain committed to supporting our AHP colleagues throughout the country to continue to develop services and partnerships that will realise the potential of all those who work in, and who access, AHP mental health services in Scotland. The Strategic Mental Health AHP Leads Group looks forward to working with you over the next three years to maintain and increase the momentum Realising Potential has created in mental health services in Scotland.

Morag Geddes and Jane Fletcher
Joint Chairs, Strategic Mental Health AHP Leads Group


Email: Susan Malcolm

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