New facilities boost mental health service
CARERS across east Kent have welcomed a £10 million investment in new wards for acute care at Canterbury's St Martin's Hospital.
Cheryl and Chris Ives are the joint voluntary coordinators for charity Rethink's Canterbury and coastal carers' support group.
They say they have seen vast improvements in hospital care over the past 20 years and welcome the investment.
But Cheryl warned: "It is the care in the community that needs improvement. There can be gaps in monitoring when people are discharged from hospital."
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When new wards at St Martin's are opened in November, mental health wards at Ashford's William Harvey Hospital will close. Acute wards at Margate's Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital have already shut. All care is being centralised in Canterbury.
Cheryl said: "The percentage of people being admitted under section is going up. That means the trust's crisis resolution home treatment teams must be very robust.
"If care plans are not delivered properly, clients won't get the care they need. That is why it is very important to keep an eye on readmission rates."
Lynn Cambridge manages Herne Bay's Umbrella Centre, which provides support for people with mental health or learning disabilities.
She said: "People come to us who are living in the community with perhaps schizophrenia, depression or they are simply very lonely.
"Sometimes they feel a little abandoned. We provide an informal drop-in centre where they can be as they are. We don't give advice but we give support and a listening ear. We are an refuge from the world."
But she warned: "In many senses we are seeing a crisis. Mental health issues seem to be getting worse, either from the stress of modern-day living to loneliness or bereavement.
"Nowadays everything has to be in the community. Experts recommend meeting in coffee shops or working in charity shops. But sometimes that is not what people need. They want to go somewhere.
"We rely on Kent County Council for most of our funding. It has been rolled over this year but the future looks uncertain. If they cut our funding next year, we will have to close."