Very solid progress has been made in the first 18 months of implementation of the Realising Potential action plan, and we should celebrate and share this progress with key stakeholders.
As we move through year two, we must build on the strengths within the AHP mental health workforce to accelerate progress on implementing the action plan. Just as important, however, is the need for us to identify processes to demonstrate the impacts the action plan is having and to report those impacts widely.
Enormously innovative work is being taken forward by AHPs in mental health to support service users and carers. Core structures have been put in place nationally and locally to support the Realising Potential agenda. NHS boards and the government are scrutinising performance to ensure local implementation of action plan recommendations. Work is progressing with ISD on integrating data on workforce numbers for mental health AHPs with the national mental health benchmarking project. And relevant education and training initiatives are being developed at national level through NES and locally by NHS boards.
What we now need is a series of outcome measures against which real progress and impacts can be reflected, economic evaluation to be embedded within AHPs' work, and AHPs' contribution to achieving the quality ambitions to be realised (see Annex 2).
This is easier said than done. Much of the impact of AHPs in mental health is subjective in that it relates directly to the experience of service users and carers. But there are elements of action plan delivery that can, and are now beginning to be, objectively measured - these include the number of service users able to directly access AHP services, the impacts of vocational rehabilitation in terms of numbers of people supported back into, or maintained within, employment, and the numbers of AHPs trained in psychological therapies and the clinical impacts of their interventions. And NHS board-level action plans to deliver Realising Potential are characterised by hard outcome measures on implementation of recommendations that can be collected locally and collated nationally to provide a nationwide picture of impact.
A means to support AHP leads to capture data in their areas consistently is currently being developed. It is hoped that this will enable them to highlight successes and challenges and deliver evidence of positive impact. Lessons learnt from these data will be absorbed by the Scottish Government to ensure that the action plan remains relevant and fit for purpose.
But that isn't all that's happening. We're also moving forward across a number of other fronts, including:
- performing and reviewing economic evaluations in vocational rehabilitation and dementia care
- considering a set of outcome measures that could be used nationally in mental health, inviting clinical leads to ask themselves what the benefits of a collective baseline measure would be to service users and services
- implementing the new Scottish Recovery Indicator (SRI 2), a revised and enhanced version launched in October 2011
- pushing forward over the next
18 months with a strong focus on delivery of Recommendation 12, which is about using information gathered while providing AHP interventions to evaluate the service user experience, enhance the evidence base and improve services using patient-reported outcome measures and standardised assessment
- increasing use of improvement methodologies and extending the Realising Time to Care approach among AHPs in mental health
- adopting and disseminating innovative approaches to service delivery, such as Talking Points and the CORE outcome measure
- reviewing how all this activity can be integrated into the mental health strategy and AHP delivery plan, building on the strengths-based approach that all AHPs hold dear to their practice.
So these are very exciting times for AHPs in mental health and their teams. Momentum has developed very quickly behind Realising Potential, and we look forward to seeing continued progress throughout year two and into year three.
Professor Maggie Nicol
Chair, the National AHP Mental Health Clinical Leads' Group
Email: Elaine Hunter
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