Public service trade union UNISON, staff who work in the Supported Living Service (SLS) and families of SLS service users are calling on Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Liverpool City Council not to scrap a “vital” community mental health service.
Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust has provided Supported Living Services (SLS) for people who have experienced severe mental illness for over twenty-five years but will cease providing SLS services later this year. Service users will then be expected to arrange their own care using personal care budgets.
Amanda Smith*, a parent of a service user said: “My son has been with SLS now for over fifteen years and is happy, confident and more than anything feels settled, safe and secure with staff that he trusts. One of the best things as a parent to see is their child develop and grow and my son has grown in ways that we did not think achievable due to the support he has received.
“This has not been an easy task, as before he was given support by SLS, his life, behaviours and mental health was not good. My greatest worry is that once he is ripped from the security of SLS that he will once again revert to his previous issues. I do not want my son lost in the system and in a clinical unit again. I hope that all parties involved in funding and provision of care rethink this irresponsible and unfair decision.”
One UNISON member who works in the service said: “This service has been operating for over twenty-five years- for many service users it was considered their last hope of getting free from secure units.
“It is not in the best interests of the vulnerable people we support to rip this valuable community service apart. The people we care for still haven’t been informed of this decision and Trust management refuse to answer key questions about how care will be provided in future- it’s disgraceful.”
UNISON North West regional organiser David McKnight said: “This dedicated team of SLS workers are devastated that their vital service will no longer be provided by Mersey Care NHS Trust.
“Their sadness and frustration is matched by the distress felt by families of service users who are understandably concerned about plans for the service.
“It is critical that this valuable service continues to be provided by the public sector- ideally in its current form. This service is a rare example of a care service which puts people over profit and quality care over quarterly financial reports.
“The social care sector is fragmented, underfunded and failing- this service must not be transferred to a private provider that is only interested in profit. UNISON calls on the Trust, the CCG and Liverpool City Council to take responsibility and ensure that this service is protected.”
*Name changed to protect identity.