Public Services working in partnership for better health and wellbeing

SGBack in November, Sarah Wills, Gofal, delivered a workshop at our event ‘Public services working in partnership for better health and wellbeing’. In this blog, Sarah provides an oversight of who Gofal are, what they do and the positive developments since our event…

About Gofal

Gofal have a simple vision – ‘Good mental health and wellbeing for all’. Gofal work with:

  • People living with serious and enduring mental illness who face the most significant challenges in achieving and maintaining independent lives within communities
  • People experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems that impact on their ability to achieve and maintain healthy fulfilled lives within communities
  • The public, employers, groups, other charities and the media to improve mental health awareness and promote whole population mental health and wellbeing
  • Politicians, Government officials and health and social care professionals to inform and  improve  legislation, policy and practice

Today Gofal support over two-thousand people a year; our recovery model provides a strong evidence based framework to operate within and we are able to clearly evidence the positive difference our services make to people’s lives. Our regular consultation exercises mean that we know exactly what matters to people who use our services and this drives everything we do.  We work in thirteen Local Authorities and five Health Board areas.

We firmly believe that we will achieve more by working with others. We have worked hard to develop strong and constructive relationships locally, regionally and nationally. We work closely with statutory, third and private sector colleagues in pursuit of Gofal’s vision.

My Role

As Head of Service for the Central Region I have responsibility for overseeing the operational and strategic management of services across Cardiff and the Vale, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil.  Part of this has included overseeing the development and running of the Mental Health Dispersed Supported Housing Scheme in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The service was evaluated by Welsh Government after being highlighted as a model of good practice and for its innovative approach as it is a partnership between Gofal, Newydd Housing Association, Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The Event

Following the evaluation we were invited to host a workshop at the WAO’s Good Practice Event on Partnership approaches to service delivery for better outcomes in North and South Wales, and were also asked to take part in the plenary panel discussion on partnership working.  We delivered the workshops in North and South Wales in partnership with the Vale of Glamorgan and Newydd.

What’s Happened Since?

The Vale Dispersed Scheme has since expanded to an additional unit, taking it to 7 properties and is likely to grow by a further unit to meet increasing demand.

Following the event I was contacted by the Regional Development Manager for Supported Housing for Betsi Cadwaldr UHB, they were really impressed with the partnership working and successful outcomes achieved on our Mental Health Dispersed Supported Housing Scheme.  They visited in early February and we established a shared ethos and approach to service delivery.  We discussed ways in which our approach could be adopted in North Wales to better meet service user’s needs but also other ways in which the UHB could work with Gofal.

We were also asked to give the presentation to the Blaenau Gwent Independent Living Strategy Forum, with representatives from Supporting People, Social Services and Health.  They were very interested in learning more about our approach and have continued their discussions in relation to how the model could be replicated there.

We have successfully submitted a bid for a replica Dispersed Scheme in Merthyr on the back of our successes in the Vale of Glamorgan, working in partnership with the Community Mental Health Team, Social Services and Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association.  This is in the process of being developed now and is already generating a lot of excitement; especially about the opportunities it offers for step-down from higher level supported housing, more independence and a better quality of life for individuals as well as cost savings to Health and Social Services budgets.

We have also given a presentation to the Supporting People National Advisory Board on the Vale Dispersed Scheme, which has allowed the project and approach to have further exposure at a national policy level.  There was lots of discussion among the members of the board about how we ensure this type of partnership working is embedded at a national policy level.

Plans for the Future

We’ve begun discussions about arranging a trip to North Wales to meet with Betsi Cadwaldr UHB again alongside some of the Local Authority leads to see what can be developed there.

We’ve continued to receive interest from other Local Authorities about the scheme and our approach, for example, Monmouthshire Supporting People have recently contacted us to arrange a visit to the project which will take place in April.

We are continuing to make progress with establishing the new Dispersed Scheme in Merthyr; the first four individuals have been identified and we are just in the process of carrying out joint needs assessments with them as well as working with Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association to identify suitable properties.

Find out more about Gofal via their website.

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