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Boogie on down to learn best practice – Ian Callaghan

A preview of the National Recovery and Outcomes Conference July 2015:

‘Check out Ian’s moves!’ read someone’s feedback from last year’s National Recovery and Outcomes Conference.

Rather than my ability at chess, which is definitely nothing to write home about, they were talking about my rather embarrassed dancing on the stage at the conference. Someone had the great, but certainly not universally popular idea of warming the conference room up again after lunch by getting us all to dance to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams.

I think you can imagine my level of ‘street cred’ when I confess I’d not actually heard the song before then. I was later told it was one of the summer’s greatest hits. And what a great sight it was – almost 350 people all boogieing away – people living and working in secure mental health services all on their feet together, indistinguishable. It was a great leveler and very definitely a first.

Next week, we will have the second national conference for people in secure care.

Like last year’s, this will bring together about 150 people living in secure mental health services, mainly medium and low secure units, along with about 180 staff from those services and 20 or so commissioners from NHS England.

As with the network of nine regional Recovery and Outcomes Groups, the aim is to bring people together to share best practice and learn from each other in as enjoyable a way as possible.

This year, we are really excited to be hearing from members of the Mental Health Taskforce, including the chair, Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, and Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Director for Mental Health, who also spoke at last year’s conference.

Paul and Geraldine are going to tell us about the work of the Taskforce, which aims to create a five-year national strategy for mental health.

The Taskforce is the first time that there has been a strategic approach to designing mental health services and they really want to know what people affected by mental health problems think.

Paul will be also telling us about the feedback from a survey of people living and working in secure services and what the implications are for the work of the Taskforce.

There will be an opportunity for questions from the audience and then some interactivity in the form of electronic voting ‘Clikapads’. We used these last year and they were great! We only gave them to the people living in services and not to the staff (some of whom weren’t at all happy about that).

Paul and Geraldine will ask the audience questions about what might have helped prevent someone needing to come into a secure service and what support they might need when they leave. We’re really looking forward to hearing the responses.

We’ll then be having some fun workshops facilitated by people from NHS England – a kind of Ready, Steady, Cook looking at the ingredients for good care and treatment while we’re in a secure hospital. We’re particularly focusing on Recovery; Risk Reduction; Mental Health and Physical Health Improvement.

We can’t wait to see what recipes people come up with – and neither can NHS England, as the responses people give will be directly used to help commissioners decide how someone’s stay in hospital is paid for in the years ahead. The views and experiences of people living in secure services will for the first time be fed into future currency models. Exciting stuff!

To break up the day, there’ll be musical performances from Mark Storey, a fantastic musician who writes songs about recovery and mental health. Mark will also be leading a song-writing workshop on the above themes and we’re also really pleased to be having Anna Geyer, the day’s graphic facilitator leading an art workshop as well as recording the day’s events in a visual way.

So, as you can see, we’ve a great day planned.

You can follow what’s happening using hashtag #RecoveryOutcomes and if you’d like to find out more about the work of Recovery and Outcomes in secure mental health care, please visit the Recovery and Outcomes website.


Image of Ian CallaghanIan is currently Recovery and Outcomes Manager at Rethink Mental Illness and the National Service User Lead for this work.

He became involved with Recovery and Outcomes work while at Kneesworth House, a medium secure hospital where he spent nearly five years from 2007 to 2012.

Ian now co-ordinates and facilitates the nine regional Recovery and Outcomes Groups, which provide a place for service users, staff and commissioners to come together to discuss developments in secure care.

Ian is also a Patient Representative for the NHS England High, Medium and Low Secure Clinical Reference Groups, to which he brings the voice of everyone in the Recovery and Outcomes Groups.

Similarly, he represents the Recovery and Outcomes Groups at other national Steering Groups, including with NHS England.

He is proud to be one of the judges for the National Service User Awards and himself won the Special Mention Award in 2014.

Ian was the Rethink Mental Illness Member of the Year in 2012 and in February 2015 won the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mental Health Hero Award in recognition of his role with Recovery and Outcomes. He has just been named on the HSJ Patient Leaders list of 2015.

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