The Mental Health Commission recently announced its latest strategic plan, 'Supporting Change'. The aim of this five year plan is to promote and vindicate human rights of people using mental health and decision support services. In addition, a new 'National Quality Framework' was announced by the Minister for Mental Health, Mary Butler, at the launch of the strategic plan.
The strategic plan and quality framework have been developed to support the roll-out of the country's mental health policy, 'Sharing the Vision', in anticipation of the expansion of the Mental Health Commission's regulatory remit in the near future, discussed below.
National Quality Framework
The new National Quality Framework sets out the themes, standards and associated criteria which are considered essential for driving high standards and supporting continuous improvement. Mr Gary Kiernan, the Director of Regulation at the Mental Health Commission, stated that the aim of the framework is to "provide clear guidance for people using mental health services, and their families and representatives, so they know what to expect in terms of quality and so that they are empowered to ask the right questions when they are not satisfied with their care".
'Supporting Change' is the Mental Health Commission's seventh strategy since its establishment. It builds on the work undertaken by the Mental Health Commission to date and sets out the Mental Health Commission's vision to provide 'equity of access to person-centred mental health services and decision support services that deliver high-quality care and support'.
The Regulation of Community Mental Health Services
Currently, the Mental Health Commission regulates in-patient mental health services in approved centres with no regulation of community mental health services. In terms of the Mental Health Commission's powers in respect of community mental health services, the Mental Health Commission currently inspects only 24-hour residences on a three-year rolling cycle.
Included in its latest strategic plan is the expansion of the Mental Health Commission's regulatory remit into community mental health services. In particular, under 'Strategic Priority 3', the Mental Health Commission has committed to advocate for the role of the Mental Health Commission as a regulator to be broadened into community mental health services. In order to achieve this action, the Mental Health Commission will support the Department of Health in the expansion of the regulatory function of the Mental Health Commission.
The expansion of the Mental Health Commission's regulatory remit will be included in the new Mental Health Bill, which the Minister for Mental Health has indicated will be brought before the Oireachtas later this year. It will be interesting to see the progression of this Bill, which will positively be a step in the right direction in terms of the Mental Health Commission's aim to strive for continuous improvement of mental health services in Ireland.
The Mental Health Commission: 'Supporting Change' Strategic Plan 2023-2027 can be accessed here and the new National Quality Framework can be accessed here.
Written by Eimear Burke and Dearbhla Walsh.
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