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Police team up with Health Board to combat mental illness

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PC Celt Thomas and mental health practitioner, Edward McHugh: Supported by a team of 11 officers who have received training.

PC Thomas and mental health practitioner, Edward McHugh: Supported
by a team of 11 officers who have received training.ill

DYFED-POWYS POLICE and Hywel Dda University Health Board have joined forces to help people in mental distress over Christmas, and reduce the amount of times police cells are used as places of safety for those waiting to be assessed. A triage service has been operating for the last two weekends, and will also be available this weekend. The service, based in Carmarthen Police HQ is led by PC Celt Thomas and mental health practitioner, Edward McHugh. They are supported by a team of 11 officers who have received training.

The team have access to police and health records, and are able to provide background information to officers so they can provide specific assistance to people who need tailored help. Most information and advice will be provided to officers remotely, via telephone or police radio contact. The service also aims to reduce the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and to provide better signposting and pathways into services for people following incidents. Evidence from the national pathfinder triage pilots show that having a mental health triage service significantly reduces the number of Section 136 detentions.

The practical benefits of mental health triage include access to patient records, information, intelligence, and specialist advice to enable better decision-making at the scene of incidents, a range of tactical options being made available to police officers as alternatives to detentions under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, proactive signposting and referral to wide range of services and better communication between agencies. Det Superintendent Andy John said: “This isn’t the first time we have worked together to provide this service. Last December, we ran the service for four evenings in December.

“It resulted in providing information and advice to officers in relation to 34 incidents, averting two Section 136 detentions and supporting an elderly couple to remain at home. Without the service, both would almost certainly have been admitted to hospital for different reasons. Referring vulnerable people for additional services and support, including young people, enabling direct admission to residential Mental Health wards. As a result of this, Dyfed Powys Police and Hywel Dda University Health Board agreed to formally pilot the service for a year, and established a Project Board to develop and oversee the pilot.

Karen Howell, Chief Executive (Interim) of Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “The street triage service is a fantastic example of prudent healthcare – healthcare that fits the needs and circumstances of patients whilst avoiding wasteful care not to the patients benefit. By working together, different organisations will provide a more timely assessment of a person’s mental health and a more positive experience for the times when they come into contact with a police officer.”

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon, who secured Home Office funding of £90,000 for the new service, said: “I want to help vulnerable people – and this practical and useful service will do that. “This service provides an appropriate service to people in mental distress at the earliest opportunity – and will save time and money for the police, ambulance and health services. “It offers new support to individuals at a time when they’re particularly vulnerable and will help Dyfed- Powys Police and others become more effective on the front line.”

Key partners on the project board include: Dyfed Powys Police; Hywel Dda University Health Board; Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire & Ceredigion Local Authorities; West Wales Action for Mental Health; University of South Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Service The Triage service will be formally evaluated by a postgraduate student of the University of South Wales, who will undertake both a quantitative and qualitative evaluation with service users. The student is also a service user, and has shared her experiences with Project Board member in order to shape and enhance the service.

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Community

Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion

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During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.

Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.

Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.

To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.

Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.

If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.

Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus

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The latest on plastic free Ceredigion

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At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.

Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.

The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.

Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.

In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.

Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”

This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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WASPI women help MP take pensions case to House of Commons

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WASPI women have helped Ben Lake, Ceredigion Plaid Cymru MP, to take the case for 1950s women’s pension injustice to Parliament at a packed out Drop-In information session at Westminster on Wednesday 4th March.

“It was a pleasure to co-host this important event, bringing WASPI representatives from across the UK to Westminster to meet MPs of all parties face-to-face,” said Mr Lake. “It gave the WASPI women a chance to share their personal experiences and to show how these unfair pension changes have impacted upon the lives of 1950s women.

Unfortunately, despite being invited, Stephen Crabb MP (also Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee) and Simon Hart MP (also Secretary of State for Wales), failed to attend. Across their Constituencies there are over 10,000 1950s women affected and many were left disappointed that their MPs did not support them at this event.

After the Drop In Session, Ben Lake took the WASPI women around the Houses of Parliament. He was a very knowledgeable guide and told the ladies some interesting stories. They saw some of Prime Minister’s Questions and a House of Lords debate. It really was a day to remember!”

Pembrokeshire WASPI along with multiple 1950s campaign groups from across the UK will travel to London on 21st July for a mass rally to support the appeal for pension justice, at the Supreme Court. For the first time in this 9 year campaign, a coach will depart from Haverfordwest.

A local spokesperson for Pembrokeshire WASPI said “Whilst our WASPI aim is to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements and compensation for all 1950s women who have been affected by the 1995 and 2011 Acts, we support the Backto60s with their appeal. Over 10,000 women are affected across the two Pembrokeshire constituencies and they want this issue resolved. To date there has been too many words and not enough action. Successive governments have failed to address the injustice done to the 1950s women. At least 82,000 women between the age of 60 and 65 have died since the fight for justice started including members of Pembrokeshire WASPI. Others have been plunged into poverty or are having to work longer in physically demanding jobs which is having an impact on their health. The appeal will see the collective voice of 1950s women groups pulling together for the first time ever to support the Backto60s and to let the Conservative Government know that we are NOT going away. Hopefully the outcome of the appeal will be in the favour of the 3.8 million women affected”.

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