Focus on Mental Illness said there were ‘unacceptable delays’ to work on Clinique Pinel, a residential facility for Islanders aged over 65 who have mental-health problems, with people being cared for in ‘what can only be considered a building site’.
And while some work had been carried out to improve Orchard House, an in-patient unit for adults with acute mental-health problems, the charity said it had been almost four years since health-and-safety inspectors recommended improvements to facilities in the Island.
‘We lament the lack of progress on the development of a suitable, safe, dignified and therapeutic environment for people with severe mental illness,’ the charity said.
In a submission to the Health and Social Security Panel, which is currently reviewing the proposed Government Plan, the charity said that regardless of the impact of Covid-19 and delays to work on Clinique Pinel, the situation continued to be affected by ‘project drift’.
The charity said it acknowledged the ‘small part played by Covid’ but that improving mental-health facilities ‘continues to be overshadowed by the new hospital development’.
‘The unacceptable delays to progressing the work on Clinique Pinel reveals the lack of priority given to improving the quality of care and support to people with severe mental illness. Service users are being cared for in what can only be considered a building site,’ the charity stated.
‘There has been no consideration to minimise noise levels. Service users report sleep disturbance, and a lack of privacy and dignity as a direct consequence of building work.’
Additional investment in the charitable sector could have helped reduce the need for in-patient care and admission, the charity added, ‘by providing early-intervention support for families as an alternative to hospital admission during periods of crisis’.
The charity highlighted that the current Government Plan included capital-project spending of almost £4 million in 2020, including investment into improvements at Orchard House and Clinique Pinel, but said the scheme ‘does not take account of the need for transitional support during the redesign and refurbishment programme and this is not reflected
in any of the detail in the Government Plan’.
Focus on Mental Illness said it welcomed further investment in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services, but added that it would like to see investment in ‘evidence-based interventions’, such as family therapy, and ‘more emphasis placed on improving the support for families experiencing challenges to family life where mental illness is in the family’, something it said could be delivered in partnership with the charitable sector.
Commenting on government measures to deliver ‘efficiencies’ from 2020 to 2023, the charity said that ‘baseline funding for mental-illness services continues to be grossly underfunded and seems this will worsen over the lifetime of the efficiency programme’.