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31st January 2016

Backing up with the facts

One of the issues for mental health professionals in planning care for people is gathering evidence for what might or might not work in carrying out a care plan. An example might be, will this person succeed with more independent living, or shall we create some daytime activities for them?

Well, we can try, and the consequences might be failure, and a real setback for the person. We can look at evidence from their own history to see whether something might succeed, or – and this is the point of my article – we can look at national evidence to give us some help in designing care plans. With that in mind, there’s a new source of evidence produced by the Mental Health Foundation called Fundamental Facts 2015.

I’ve written in a previous blog about the previous edition of this useful document, last published in 2007, so an updated version is very welcome. I’ve made a lot of use of the previous Fundamental Facts in looking with students at compiling evidence for mental health tribunal reports as to how social factors impact on mental health problems. It’s why mental health tribunals want to know about social issues - it’s a key to writing care plans that will promote recovery.

Sources of evidence

The Fundamental Facts document is organised systematically, starting with mental health issues across the lifetime of an individual, and factors affecting particular groups. The document then outlines examples of evidence relating to factors affecting mental well-being, effectiveness of treatments, and the costs of mental health problems. A whole range of evidence is backed up by detailed UK reference sources that can be quoted to back up the statements. You can download the document here 

Support care planning

Let me give some examples about how we might use the new Fundamental Facts to support care planning:

  • There’s a research exercise undertaken in Scotland that showed older people with a mental health problem can benefit from taking part in regular exercise – so let’s think about incorporating regular exercise into the care plan of an older person with mental health problems.
  • There’s a population study in England, Wales, and Scotland which found that the more debt people had, the more likely they were to have some form of mental disorder - so use this as evidence to incorporate financial assessment as part of a health and social care assessment.

Now the Fundamental Facts document can be used to support reasons for incorporating certain goals into a care plan, backing up discharge plans in reports, and raising awareness of mental health problems and their impact, and in planning services for the future. So make use of Fundamental Facts, and look forward to this document being updated every year from now on!

David Beckingham – QCS Expert Mental Health Contributor

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