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for Mental Health

Better times are ahead for users of mental health services and carers in County Durham and Darlington thanks to the launch of a new Charter today.

The Charter, which has been written by the users and carers themselves, will set new, high standards for adults with mental health care needs in the area and for their carers.

The users and carers organised the event, with support from the County Durham and Darlington Mental Health Service User and Carer Involvement Team, to mark the handing over of the Charter to health, social care and voluntary organisations that provide mental health services in the area.

At the event, the Chief Executives from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), NHS Trusts and other statutory and voluntary organisations across the area were formally presented with the Charter. The Chief Executives from these organisations have agreed to the implementation of this Charter and staff will receive information and training about how to use the Charter effectively so that they can work together to ensure that the standards set within this charter are achieved.

The Charter explains what services are available and what service users can expect at each stage of the care process. It contains details of what should be expected from Primary Care services:

  • To have their mental health needs identified and assessed as well as their physical health
  • To be kept well informed about the planning and process of care.

It contains a section on 'Being in Hospital' and details about what service users should expect:

  • To be allocated a mental health worker that will co-ordinate their care throughout their stay in hospital
  • To be able to talk to someone regarding their options/feelings/experiences without prejudice i.e. with a mental health worker, Advocate and Patient Advice and Liaison Services(PALS).

Information on Education, Employment and Benefits, Promoting Good Mental Health, Resolving Concerns is also contained in the Charter as is, a signposting section on information about accessing services in each of the six Primary Care Trust areas.

John Cummings, MP for Easington was there on the day and a message of support from The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP was read out by his agent John Burton. A special message was broadcast from Hartlepool actress Jenny McAlpine, aka ‘Fizz’ from the television programme Coronation Street, whose father has experienced mental health problems.

Kate Harrington, from the Involvement Team said: “This is an innovative piece of work, which will lead the way nationally for standards of care for people who have mental health problems.

“This pioneering initiative is in line with recent Government guidelines on Patient Choice, which recognises that people are looking for more control and flexibility over the way they are treated. The Charter provides people with a guide to support them when they have contact with services during what can be a very difficult time.

“The project has been led by a team of 20 service users and is a triumphant example of a service user-led scheme and successful collaborative working between workers, service users and carers. Hundreds of service users and carers across the County have been consulted about the content of the Charter.

“They also consulted with professionals from psychiatrists, psychologists, in-patient staff to primary care staff and community mental health teams from the nine statutory organisations in County Durham and Darlington and by many voluntary and independent mental health organisations.”

For service users, the Charter will empower them so that they can ensure they receive the best possible care.

For carers, the Charter will provide information so they can support the person they care for more effectively as well as addressing their own individual needs.

Workers will also benefit from the Charter, as it will help support them to engage positively with service users and carers which in turn will encourage closer partnership working.

Bob Kelly, Service User said: “ Using the Charter myself, having been a passive patient, if I had had this in my private fight to survive, I would have been able to find out where I stood.”

During the event there were presentations of prizes to people involved in the project by the Mayor of Durham and the members of the Charter Writing Team received engraved pens for their efforts. A group of musicians, all of whom are from Waddington Street Resource Centre, performed three tracks from their new CD during the lunch break.


For further information please contact Tina Young, Communications Manager on 0191 333 3382.

Tina Young


Being in Hospital

This is an extract from a Charter of Standards for Adult Mental Health Services in County Durham and Darlington, which informs service users and carers about what they can expect from services.

  • Do you want to know what you can expect from mental health services?
  • Do you want to know what yaou are entitled to ask for?
  • Do you want the information, power and choice to enable you to receive the best possible care?

This charter will support you to work with your mental health workers to make sure you get the best possible care so that one day you can achieve a good quality of life

This leaflet will inform you about what you can expect from the mental health services you receive while you are in hospital.

Being in Hospital

You should expect:

  • Your meal times to be honoured. You should not be interrupted during your meal without good reason.
  • The oppotuniity to discuss issues with mental health workers during ward rounds.
  • A choice about what you do while you are in hospital (within hospital rules.) e.g. to be able to make a drink when you want to.
  • Staff to support you to motivate yourself to take part in a choice of activities which you think are suitable for your needs e.g. occupational therapy.
  • To be able to continue to take part in social activities if appropriate, e.g. going to the library, classes etc.
  • To be able to talk to someone regarding your options/feelings/experiences without prejudice i.e. with a mental health worker, Advocate or Patient Advice and Liason Services (PALS) worker.

You should expect:

  • Single sex accommodation and privacy.
  • Hospitals to be a safe place for everyone and any possible risks regularly assessed and reviewed.
  • A lockable locker to keep your personal things in.
  • That if you are unhappy with sharing a room with someone that you will be able to discuss this and find a solution to the problem.
  • Access to quiet rooms in hospital away from smoke rooms.
  • To have fresh air and exercise.
  • Staff to recognise your personal and cultural identity.

Please speak to your allocated mental health worker if you have any concerns.

Being in Hospital

It can be a difficult time while you are in hospital and often you can be unsure about what to expect. This leaflet along with the full charter "Better Times Ahead" can inform you about what you should expect.

You should expect:

  • That you will be allocated a mental health worker that will co-ordinate your care throughout your stay in hospital.
  • That within 72 hours of your stay in hospital yuor intervention plan will be designed and implemented
  • To have your views taken into account about when you need to take your medication e.g. you can ask for PRN (Pro Re Nata) which means taken as required.
  • To be supported to take part in user-led forums/meetings that take place on the ward.
  • To have only people who are involved in your care present at hospital meetings concerning you.
  • To be told who will be attending those meetings before you enter the room.

The full copy of this charter contains sections about:-

A. Services you can access through your GP services

B. Medication, treatment, therapies and care.

C. Care co-ordination and your care plan.

D. Receiving the best possible care.

E. Values, principles and attitudes.

F. Partnership working between servie users, carers and workers

G. Rights, including rights in law.

H. When you are detained (Sectioned) - Your rights.

I. What to do when things go wring.

J. Accessing information.

K. Education, employment opportunities and benefits.

L. Have your say about services.

M. Being a carer - information for family and friends.

P. Promoting good mental health.

A full copy of this charter is available from your allocated mental health worker or the County Durham and Darlington Mental Health Service User and Carer Involvement Team.

John Shaw House

Durham University Science Park

Durham DH1 3YG

Tel: 0191 374 4129

e-mail: [email protected]