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Community mental health services for adults to be integrated

A community mental health framework for adults and older people will integrate mental health, physical health and social care services
Picture shows a group of men talking to a mental health professional in a support group meeting. A community mental health framework for adults and older people will integrate mental health, physical health and social care services.

A community mental health framework for adults and older people will integrate mental health, physical health and social care services

Community mental health nurses working in England face the biggest shake-up in their work environments and caseloads in decades.

The new Community Mental Health Framework for Adults and Older Adults , prepared by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health with NHS England and NHS Improvement, sets out major changes to how care will be delivered.

It supports the vision of the NHS Long Term Plan to modernise services and have a more integrated community mental health model built around existing GP practices, neighbourhoods and community hubs.

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A community mental health framework for adults and older people will integrate mental health, physical health and social care services

Picture shows a group of men talking to a mental health professional in a support group meeting. A community mental health framework for adults and older people will integrate mental health, physical health and social care services.
Picture: iStock

Community mental health nurses working in England face the biggest shake-up in their work environments and caseloads in decades.

The new Community Mental Health Framework for Adults and Older Adults, prepared by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health with NHS England and NHS Improvement, sets out major changes to how care will be delivered.

It supports the vision of the NHS Long Term Plan to modernise services and have a more integrated community mental health model built around existing GP practices, neighbourhoods and community hubs.

‘A move away from disjointed, inconsistent care’

Service users are promised a move away from what it calls ‘disjointed, inconsistent and episodic care’.

King’s College London professor of mental health nursing Alan Simpson said: ‘Integral to this will be developments to increase the capacity of the workforce to support community-based care for adults and older adults with, for example, eating disorders, mental health rehabilitation needs and complex mental health difficulties associated with a diagnosis of a personality disorder.’

In an opinion piece for Mental Health Practice, professor Simpson, who was national adviser to the framework, said people with mental health problems will be able to access mental healthcare when and where they need it, so they will no longer face being discharged from inpatient services with no further support.

A place-based, multidisciplinary service across health and social care

He said service users would be supported to manage their condition or move towards individualised recovery, surrounded by their families, carers and social networks, and supported in their local community.

According to the plans, local areas with populations of 30,000 to 50,000 people will be supported to redesign and reorganise their core community mental health teams to move towards a new place-based, multidisciplinary service across health and social care.

As well as mental health assessment and treatment, there will be access to services including:

  • employment, education, volunteering
  • advocacy
  • housing and social care
  • support groups, such as older adult groups, hearing voices groups, or problem-specific support groups, for example for diabetes or depression
  • help and advice on finances

Teams will likely include mental health nurses, mental health pharmacists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, social workers, housing support officer and debt advisers.

Implementing the framework, which involves triple integration of mental health, physical health and social care, will take time, though some components are already being implemented in certain areas, the framework document says.


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