The Somerset Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Commissioning Team

Somerset’s Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Commissioning Team support the health and wellbeing of the people of Somerset by putting them at the heart of the way our mental health services are designed and commissioned.

We are a small, dedicated team of professionals with experience across the NHS, social care and our own lived experience of mental health services in Somerset. We work across all age groups and demographics, from Children and Young People to Adults and Older Adults, and we aim to ensure that every person in Somerset gets high-quality mental health support to fit their needs. We work closely with providers across the county to change the way that we deliver our health and care services; we want to ensure that they work well together to fulfil people’s needs and are located in the community wherever possible, close to where people live.

Our Vision for Mental Health Services in Somerset

In Somerset, people with actual lived experience of mental health issues, their carers, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, other health and care professionals and local community and voluntary organisations have worked together to develop a vision for our future mental health services.

We will give greater priority to helping people stay healthy in the first place; we recognise the importance of putting a greater focus on the prevention of ill health, tackling health inequalities and the promotion of positive health and wellbeing to ensure a greater parity of esteem between mental and physical health. We are working together with agencies (including the Local Authority, Mind in Somerset and the Alzheimer’s Society etc.) to enable people, their carers and family members to access support within the community when they need it.

A graphic depicting the future modelling and design for Somerset's mental health services

In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan was published, setting out a blueprint for the future of the NHS over the next ten years. The plan was accompanied by a government promise to invest significantly more in mental health services during that time. This funding will enable us to deliver a series of specific commitments to expanding mental health services:

Specific Commitments to Improve Mental Health Services (click to expand)

  • Expanding the availability of specialist perinatal mental health services and enabling support within the community
  • A further expansion of the ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ service – talking therapies
  • Testing a new four-week waiting time target for community mental health teams
  • Development of a new integrated, community-based service which includes psychological therapies, improved physical health care, employment support and support for self-harm
  • A single point of access and timely universal mental health crisis care for everyone
  • A new Mental Health Safety Improvement Programme to prevent suicide in inpatient units and offer support for people bereaved by suicide
  • Continuing to invest in expanding access to community-based mental health services for children and young people, with the focus on early intervention and prevention services
  • Boosting investment in children and young people’s eating disorder services
  • Expanding timely, age-appropriate crisis services to meet the needs of our children and young people
  • Continuing to invest in education support and mental health support teams in schools
  • Continuing our whole system response to preventing incidences of self-injury and self-harm
  • Focused efforts to improve the mental health support for vulnerable young people such as Looked After Children, Children with Special Educational Needs, Children with Neurodevelopmental conditions, Young Carers and Young Offenders.
A graphic detailing an emerging mental health model for Somerset, picturing a sliding scale of integrated care (getting the right care at the right time in the right place).

Learning Disabilities and Autism – Our Strategic Vision Statement

Our strategic vision for Somerset (in line with the NHS Long Term Plan) is to support people with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism to look after their health and lead healthier lives.

We aim to do this by making sure that people receive timely and appropriate health checks and have better access to health services whilst improving the level of awareness and understanding across the NHS of how we can best support them as individuals.

We want people with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism to be able to say that:

  • They have a fulfilling life as Somerset citizens, including having equal opportunities and choose where to work, study, enjoy leisure and social activities as well as have meaningful relationships and friendships
  • They are able to have and/or remain in their own homes
  • They can access good quality mainstream services when needed
  • They have timely access to good quality and safe specialist services as close to home as possible

If they need access to specialist bed provision this would be for the shortest possible time required.

Our underpinning principles to deliver this vision for Somerset people with Learning Disability and Autism (click to expand)

  • We will reduce the reliance on specialist inpatient care and strengthen community support to enable people to remain in their own homes
  • We will improve the quality and safety of inpatient care when people do have to go into hospital
  • We will provide good quality, accessible healthcare to all people with learning disabilities (including improving the updating, and quality of, Annual Health Checks for people with a learning disability)
  • We will deliver on the commitments of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme
  • We will work in partnership to induce innovation while continuously improving safety and efficiency
  • We will work together to manage within our available resources as a system (across health and social care)
  • We will identify opportunities to jointly commission/collaborate in the design and delivery of future services, building on existing pooled budgets.

We hope that delivering on these key priorities should mean that more people with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism who live in Somerset will be able to live their lives in the way that they choose.