The West's Awake

Article 5

by Orla O'Duinn, September 2017

Mayo and Roscommon/East Galway were two of the original seven Advancing Recovery in Ireland (ARI) pilot sites nationally.

We have been using the Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change (ImROC) methodology framework over the past four years to help restructure and refocus our services around recovery principles. Back in 2012, the ARI community in CHO2 were introduced to a new and exotic recovery language. Words such as “co-production, co-delivery, lived experience, peer support, consumer panel, involvement centre, Recovery College and trialogue”, were brought to us at ARI learning sets.

Inspiring recovery champions, including Geoff Shepherd, Julie Repper, Tony Leahy and Michael Ryan, introduced new concepts and stories around working collaboratively as service users, family members, supporters and service providers, to enhance person centred, strengths focused recovery oriented service development. In truth, it was an exciting, enlightening and challenging learning curve which required a shift in mind-set for all involved.

Over the past four years, however, real change has taken place with regard to engagement in CHO2. The views and experiences of service users and their supporters are increasingly at the heart of mental health service planning and delivery. We have moved from a weak position with regard to service user, family member and carer engagement to some real and tangible change, born of our ARI involvement.

CHO2 is home to Ireland’s first and second Recovery colleges. Moreover, we have three active consumer panels and we have recently welcomed thirteen part time peer support workers into our service. Co-produced and co-delivered recovery principles’ training is being provided across multidisciplinary teams while Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and Eolas programmes are also being co-delivered.  And families have not been left out of the picture with Bealach Nua in Mayo providing family peer support. Finally, in a very significant development, Colette Tuohy was recently appointed as CHO2 Area Lead for Mental Health Engagement and her contact details can be found here.

And it would be remiss of me not to say that many of these innovations were made possible by generous Genio co-funding which has now been broadened into the Service Reform Fund (SRF).

Real and sustained change takes time and on-going commitment however.  We face challenges both financial and ideological at times and this can bring frustration, disappointment and attrition.  In this context, managing the expectations of all stakeholders is a complex but necessary task.

I’m confident that we will continue to make progress, develop capacity and reform and enhance service provision in CHO2 over the coming years and I want to thank all those who have given of their time, energy, experience, knowledge and wisdom in the pursuit of recovery and wellbeing for all in CHO2.

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