Wales

Auditor general's housing concern for mentally ill

  • 23 November 2010
  • From the section Wales
Depressed woman (posed by model)
Image caption The assembly government said work was under way to improve the planning and delivery of services

Little progress has been made on improving the planning and delivery of housing services for people with mental health needs, says a report.

The auditor general for Wales said just two of Wales' 22 local authorities had achieved more than half of the assembly government's targets.

Access to the right housing and support services was critical for people with a mental illness, said the report.

The assembly government said it was committed to improving services.

The report said a lack of stable housing was a key factor that could "lead to social exclusion and risky behaviour and can lead to more institutional forms of care and support".

Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said: "Despite clear targets, it is disappointing that so little progress has been made over the last five years in improving the planning and delivery of housing services for people with mental health needs.

"Given the importance that access to good housing has on the independence and inclusion of adults with mental health needs, Wales really does need to get to grips with this issue fast."

The assembly government has set out "clear expectations" for adult mental health in a national service framework.

But the report found poor progress had been made in the delivery of the assembly government's targets.

Strategic planning remained of "poor quality" and joint planning between local health, social care and housing service providers "was not always effective".

The assembly government's monitoring relating to the delivery of its housing targets had also been "ineffective".

Only seven local authorities had produced action plans capturing all of the housing-related targets, while two councils included none of the targets.

Rachel Bowen, a policy and social inclusion officer with Mind Cymru, said the charity was disappointed with the lack of progress.

"We want to see people with experience of mental distress much more closely involved in drawing up services that they need," she said.

'Substantial progress'

"We know that where people with experience of mental distress are involved in helping to plan services, these services work much more effectively, which is essential in the current climate."

An assembly government spokesperson said: "We are committed to improving services, particularly for those who are vulnerable.

"We will consider the report's recommendations to decide how best to improve the planning and delivery of housing services for people with mental health needs, which is the focus of the report.

"It is important to note that it does not raise issue with mental health services to individuals.

"The report does not necessarily reflect other areas where there has been substantial progress such as developing crisis resolution and home treatment services.

"Work is already under way to improve planning and delivery. We have also invested in new mental health units for people who require in-patient care and treatment."

The Welsh Conservatives' housing spokesperson, Mark Isherwood AM, said the reported highlighted a "woeful failure that simply beggars belief".

"This is a vital area that has huge significance on the independence and inclusion of adults with mental health needs, yet not only have Labour-Plaid failed to meet targets, they are not even monitoring performance," he said.

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