Lack of understanding amongst policy makers is leaving the most vulnerable at risk

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Posted on 01/06/2015

The Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition, of which Mind is a partner, has launched a report highlighting the problems still facing people with multiple needs.

A report launched by a coalition of charities shows that people with multiple needs – a combination of homelessness, substance misuse, offending, and mental health problems – are not getting the support they need because policymakers aren’t consistently listening to them or the practitioners that support them.

‘Solutions from the Frontline’ is based on the ideas and experiences of people with multiple needs. It sets out how the new Government, as well as national and local policy makers and commissioners, can act to reduce stigma, improve services, and support people to achieve their ambitions.

In the March 2015 Budget the Government committed to exploring options to integrate spending around vulnerable groups of people in order to improve cost effectiveness. Every year 58,000 people face multiple needs. Their contact with services is often ineffective, leading to more urgent and expensive care being necessary. Current estimates suggest that the annual cost of supporting people with multiple needs is between £1.1 billion and £2.1 billion¹.

The Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition is calling for a new approach, where people experiencing multiple needs are placed at the centre of their own support, listened to, understood and have all their needs addressed.

The recommendations include:

  • Listen to frontline voices and tackle stigma
    The views of those with direct experience of multiple needs should be integrated into policy-making and the design and delivery of services.
  • Deliver flexible and more joined-up services
    Government and commissioners need to prioritise multiple needs and ensure that they are joined-up, flexible and don’t allow anyone to fall through the gaps.
  • Support people toward independence
    Back-to-work support providers and local authorities should improve access to personalised support and quality accommodation to allow people with multiple needs to move towards independence.

Lee, who has personal experience of complex needs and helped shape the report, explains why change is necessary: “I think one of the things that struck me is that people aren’t asking for a lot – they’re asking to be treated with dignity and respect. The changes aren’t massive. It’s all doable. It’s achievable – the systems are in place already, it just needs a change in the system.”

Sandra, from Nottingham, outlines one of the problems with services she faced: “When I said that I thought I was drinking too much and I wanted help, they said ‘how much do you drink’, and they said you don’t drink enough to access the service. It’s hard, especially when you’ve admitted to yourself that you have a problem.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“We know that dealing with mental health problems can be hard enough on its own, but having to do it whilst facing other difficulties such as homelessness, drug addiction or being in the criminal justice system, can be especially tough. This report shows that people in this situation simply aren’t receiving the support they need. By going out and listening to those on the frontline the report offers clear and achievable solutions for all those involved to improve this support, as called for by those who need it most.”

To download the report, visit http://meam.org.uk/publications/

¹ This figure is based on a combination of findings from an evaluation of pilot projects by Making Every Adult Matter, and research by the LankellyChase Foundation. For a full analysis and references see MEAM (2015) Individuals with multiple needs – the case for a national focus, p. 7 (http://www.meam.org.uk/publications/)

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