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Community Mental Health Recovery in Wigan

In a move to help people take control of their support and increase independence, Wigan Council has introduced Brain in Hand into a number of its mental health services.

Brookfield House - a community home that provides effective support to people experiencing a wide range of conditions including complex mental health needs, dual diagnoses, and personality disorders - is using Brain in Hand and seeing a real impact. Giving residents the ability to manage problems for themselves, and a way of having on-the-go access to coping strategies developed as part of their work with the service, has meant that people have achieved better outcomes sooner than expected.

For some, having Brain in Hand has represented a safety net, a link to support which has meant that they can move on to more independent living without having to worry that they won't be able to get help.

Chris Parr talking

"The Brain in Hand system has embraced our ethos around people taking control of their own lives and their own recovery. People have used Brain in Hand as opposed to using other emergency services or becoming unwell."

Chris Parr, Lead Provider Manager at Wigan Council

Jane Stevens, Wigan Council's Head of Assistive Technology, talks about the process of introducing Brain in Hand:

“We took Brain in Hand to Brookfield, a community reablement service for individuals discharged from hospital or living in the community with the aim of reducing their likelihood of readmission. We immediately got buy-in to Brain in Hand from Brookfield’s staff, so we suspected it could be a success, but even I was shocked at the impact we saw it make.”

Brookfield staff collaborated with the Brain in Hand team to integrate the system into their service. Individuals who the team thought would engage with the technology and take ownership of their recovery were selected; staff were trained to introduce them to the system and provide ongoing support to ensure the best chance of success.

“Not everyone connected with Brain in Hand, but we always expect that,” says Jane. “For those who did, the impact was huge.

“One individual with a history of self-harm – and who had just been discharged from two months on an acute mental health ward – was given Brain in Hand to help her manage her emotions and cope better in new daily living situations. She’s now been able to step down from Brookfield’s services and hasn’t needed to access emergency services or a crisis team, which she previously would have done. That’s a phenomenal success.”

Based on this success, Wigan will be trialling Brain in Hand within their Homeless, Drugs, and Rehabilitation programme, which will be another first. Jane hopes that the use of technology will only continue to grow.

“We want all of our local authority and NHS staff to be able to harness the results that technology can deliver. During every self-assessment we now ask whether the individual has considered technology as a means of support, and provide a list of suggestions across our twelve domains of care; equally, when staff are supporting a person looking for help, we make sure that they consider this to help the person make decisions and take control of their life.”

Of the thousands of products and services investigated by the council, and the hundreds taken to trial, only a select few will be successful. Yet Jane’s certain that it’s worth it.

“When you see the difference the right technology can make to people’s real lives,” she says, “you know that the failures have more than paid off. It’s incredible how far assistive technology has come in the past fifteen years, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”


Watch the video from Brookfield House