I am very aware of the effect on the mental health and wellbeing of friends and neighbours in Norreys and across the Borough as a result of restrictions enforced during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the effect on mental health due to traumatic experiences of those who have suffered illness, bereavement, loss of employment or financial hardship as a direct result of the pandemic. Can you advise me of any plans you have made to deal with this?
I am very aware of the effect on the mental health and wellbeing of friends and neighbours in Norreys and across the Borough as a result of restrictions enforced during the Covid 19 pandemic. In addition, the effect on mental health due to traumatic experiences of those who have suffered illness, bereavement, loss of employment or financial hardship as a direct result of the pandemic. Can you advise me of any plans you have made to deal with this?
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a real impact on people’s mental health. The Borough’s Community Response has tried to reach out to those isolated and vulnerable. Adult Social Care within WBC has made over 6,000 initial welfare checks with some 16,000 follow up welfare calls via the WBC / The Link Visiting Scheme and there have been some 4,000 calls to the “One Front Door”, supported by WBC and Citizens Advice. The One Front Door takes calls of any nature, many of which relate lately to mental health. These initiatives will continue to be in place over the next period.
We also have further initiatives we are doing. Firstly, we are doing a project with Earley Plus, PCN and Citizens Advice to encourage residents to call the One Front Door, if their mental health is suffering. The CAB will try to resolve some of the underlying issues causing depression and anxiety, such as financial stress and relationship breakdowns. They also can sign post to other specialist services, be it formal mental health services or other voluntary organisations.
In addition, WBC have sourced a specialist voluntary sector partner, Oxfordshire MIND, to provide support to those suffering from mild to moderate mental health issues. This service includes Well Being Support Workers, who will talk through issues over a number of sessions, as well as signposting to groups and activities to support them. The service will take referrals from GPs, statutory or voluntary organisations. They will also be tasked to support the voluntary sector with mental health training, providing advice and support. This will be in place in the next couple of months and will be based in Wokingham town centre as well as remotely across the Borough.
Wokingham Borough Council has also set up a Recovery College which provides courses and workshops for people with mental health needs and their carers in the Borough. The courses are focused on understanding mental health issues, managing mental health in a positive way and staying well. Courses provide life skill training and access to support to gain employment. They are open to all Wokingham Borough residents over the age of 18 who are free to register with the college. The courses are currently delivered online until venues can reopen in the community post Covid.
You mentioned the upcoming service with MIND. Can you give me some examples of how successful they have been in this sort of situation in other areas, and how they can achieve it in Wokingham?
They have a proven track record of implementing large, broad reaching mental health programmes. They currently hold the contract for the delivery of the Primary Care wellbeing project, which has been commissioned by the Oxfordshire CCG, and delivery of Oxfordshire Safe Haven, the out of hours service commissioned by the Oxfordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Since 2018 when their primary care wellbeing project was commissioned, they have seen 3,100 people across 32 GP practices. In Year 2, they saw 1,500 people across 29 GP practices. Of this number, 185 completed the intervention, leaving the service successfully. 78% reported a significant increase in wellbeing. Satisfaction rates have remained above 90% for both years. The Covid 19 pandemic forced them to shift to a predominantly remote service, but even during this period they have managed to connect with a large number of service users and to record good outcomes. In April-September 2020, 671 service users accessed the service, 124 finished the intervention, and 79% showed a significant increase in wellbeing.
In answer to your question, in Wokingham, it is anticipated that there could be as many as 1,200 people supported by this service with 41% expected to go to other services, Citizens Advice, LINK visiting scheme, Age UK. This service will co-ordinate and nurture the voluntary sector response creating an allied response. They are going to work with the voluntary sector as well as GP practices so they will be visible in the community. I think it is a very successful organisation. They are shortly coming to Wokingham which is great news, and their services will be of real value to our residents.