Sheena's Blog: a person-centred future

by Sheena Cumiskey - 29 April 2016

You may be aware that last week was annual Depression Awareness Week (DAW).

The aim of DAW is to get people to talk about mental health conditions, bringing the conversation into the mainstream to reduce stigma around a subject that as many as 1 in 4 people in the UK are experiencing. This is a cause very close to all our hearts.

Throughout all the coverage that focused on DAW, I was particularly struck by the story of Paul – a nine year old boy struggling with complex mental health needs – on Radio 4. Listening to Paul tell his story, and the clarity with which he described his experiences, really reinforced the importance of vulnerable young voices like his being heard.

This was still resonating in my mind last week as I was taken on a guided tour of Ancora House – our soon-to-be-opened CAMHS inpatient unit. In addition to seeing just how much the building work had progressed since my last visit, I was absolutely thrilled to hear the many, many ways young people have been involved with the design and development of the project.

Before a shovel even touched the ground, our young service users were invited to meet with Ancora House’s contractor and interior designer to discuss the best ways to ensure a safe and supportive therapeutic environment. Most recently, they have been involved in the designs for the building signage, as well as helping us to finalise the names of the wards.

The whole development of Ancora has been led by a collaborative and person-centred approach, with the determination that vulnerable young people in our community – many just like Paul – are able to have their say about future mental health services.

Although a commitment to co-production has been one of our key objectives across all service areas for a number of years, the publication of the government’s CAMHS transformation initiative Future in Mind has put young people’s services particularly in the spotlight in recent months.

With this in mind, it’s wonderful to see how our CAMHS teams across the Trust are preparing for future challenges by involving young people in the reshaping of services. In Wirral, young people in our CAMHS service were recently invited by the CCG to have their say about the Wirral’s Children and Young People's Mental Health Transformation Plan; and in East Cheshire, we continue to work in partnership with six schools to develop mental health action plans that are individually tailored to the requirements of each school.

As I’m sure you’ve seen, this week’s industrial action has grabbed many of the headlines both locally and nationally.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all staff during this latest round of industrial action, and a particular mention to our emergency planning team Tim Jenkins and Danielle Burton for coordinating such an effective response team.

When we aren’t at full strength, it’s more important than ever to come together and support one another to ensure that the quality of care we provide is not adversely affected. Our ability to work as one team supporting each other continues to shine through. 

Very best wishes,


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