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Mentally Ill People

Volume 165: debated on Wednesday 17 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what plans he has to provide additional support for mentally ill patients recently discharged from institutions and now living at home;(2)what plans he has to provide extra community psychiatric nurses and social workers to provide for those with serious mental illness who are to live in the community;(3)what plans he has to supply carers to patients with serious mental illness;(4)what steps he proposes to take to ensure that mentally ill patients who were discharged from institutions have suitable accommodation with carers or relatives.

[holding answer 15 January 1990]: Local authorities have statutory responsibilities both for the care and support of persons in the community who suffer from mental illness and for the aftercare of persons discharged from hospital. Health boards have similar responsibilities in relation to Health Service provision for such persons and there are well-established arrangements for cooperation between health and social work services in the community.In such cases local authorities must decide whether help is required with accommodation needs, including supported accommodation, and what other measures of assistance may be appropriate. Where continuing care or support is deemed to be necessary for persons living on their own, the need for home care services alongside the availability of any informal carer will commonly be considered. Decisions on the nature and extent of assistance to be provided in particular cases are for authorities themselves having regard to the resources available to them.The recently published White Paper "Caring for People" (Cmd. 849) makes clear the intention of building on existing guidance on the discharge of patients from mental illness hospitals by requiring health boards and local authorities to prepare joint care plans for such persons on the basis of a full assessment of individual needs before discharge takes place.Staffing at professional and other levels will be an important element in the community care plans which local authorities and health boards will be required to produce by 1 April 1991. As the White Paper makes clear, there will he central monitoring of progress in the implementation of these plans.