Realising Potential: An Action Plan for Allied Health Professionals in Mental Health

Realising Potential: An Action Plan for Allied Health Professionals in Mental Health

Foreword by the Minister for Public Health and Sport

Shona Robison, MSP photograph

This document is a first for Scotland in that it brings together the work of the allied health professions ( AHPs) in mental health in partnership with service users and carers, professional organisations and NHS boards.

This three-year action plan sits beside a wider AHP project currently under way in Scotland that focuses on scoping the AHP workforce in mental health and reviewing the mental health dimensions of pre-registration AHP programmes. In addition, it has been developed parallel to a "refresh" of Delivering for mental health, providing support for the change agenda in mental health and the shift in the balance of care from hospital to community.

But the action plan has also been developed at a time of significant financial pressures for NHS boards. It is therefore imperative that it sets achievable and realistic recommendations that not only promote recovery and strengths-based approaches within a framework of person-centred practice, but which also provide for efficient and cost-effective AHP services.

The action plan is about recognising the value AHPs bring and enabling them to work in different ways to provide better services. It empowers AHPs to lead the reconfiguration of their services to enable early interventions and ensure timely access to AHPs for service users and carers.

Delivering person-centred practice is the central princ_iple of The healthcare quality strategy for NHSScotland and is core to everything we do. The DVD that accompanies this action plan demonstrates in a very powerful way how highly service users and carers value person-centred practice, and how much this dimension of AHP practice has supported transformational change in their lives.

An AHP workforce in mental health that has its contribution rightly recognised and valued, is properly prepared, supported, motivated and deployed and which is backed by strong local and national leadership is a powerful force for progressing person-centred practice in NHSScotland.

A strong AHP workforce in mental health brings benefits for all.

First and foremost, it brings benefits to service users through the promotion of realistic hope of meaningful recovery and positive engagement with social, educational and work opportunities.

It brings benefits to carers, many of whom provide the vital support that sustains service users in good times and bad.

It brings benefits to AHPs and their colleagues in the multidisciplinary, multiagency team through the recognition and deployment of highly-skilled, clinically effective AHP practitioners as part of integrated mental health services.

And it brings benefits to our economy through providing the support to maintain people as active, productive members of society, capable of supporting themselves and their families.

We know that AHPs make a difference, and we know they are capable of bringing all these benefits into play.

I am confident that delivering the recommendations in this action plan will prove the springboard for transformational development of AHP roles in mental health, building on the professions' core strengths to modernise working practices and adopt new ways of providing interventions.

Realising the potential of AHPs in mental health is, I believe, a very positive step towards the aim of enabling service users to realise their potential, reclaiming that "ordinary life" or, indeed, "extraordinary life" that is so important to all of us and supporting them to progress as productive members of their families and communities.

Shona Robison, MSP
Minister for Public Health and Sport

" I feel I am treated with respect [in the occupational therapy service] … The occupational therapist clearly saw exactly what I needed for my recovery, and the encouragement I have received has enabled me to start publishing my work again, as I was doing before I became ill. "

Service user Experience of occupational therapy

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