Sharing stories of recovery with Rethink Mental Illness

Cygnet staff meeting colleagues from Rethink Mental Illness

We were pleased to recently meet with key members of staff from Rethink Mental Illness to discuss how Cygnet leads the way in co-production and to shed insight on our Experts by Experience programme.

Rethink Mental Illness is a leading charity provider of mental health services in England. They offer expert advice and information across 90 services – everything from housing to community-based services. They also campaign to change the law and tackle discrimination and run over 130 local groups which provide vital peer support in the community.

Cygnet is one of the UK’s leaders in true service user involvement and it is something we champion and feel passionate about. We are committed to truly having people at the centre of their care and treatment. The team at Rethink were keen to find out about how we utilise expertise of people who use our services and how they are involved in care planning, making collaborative decisions, staff recruitment and training and planning and improving service quality.

Ian Callaghan, Recovery & Secure Care Programme Manager at Rethink Mental Illness attended our offices in Millbank to meet Raf Hamaizia, our Expert by Experience Lead and Stephen Firn, our CEO of Health Care, along with several of our Experts by Experience.

Ian visited together with their Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Involvement, their Head of Involvement, Head of Co-production, the chairs of their Lived Experience Advisory Board and Carers’ Advisory Board, and their Policy Manager for Rights & the Mental Health Act.

Speaking after the visit, Ian said: “Thank you so much to Raf and colleagues for a really enjoyable and informative afternoon at Cygnet central offices.

“After a delicious lunch and tour of the offices, Raf took us on a presentation tour of all things lived experience and co-production that Cygnet support – from his own amazing personal journey, through to the many ways in which involvement and co-production are embedded throughout Cygnet services. We heard about specific projects, such as the inspirational Music 2 Empower, as well as the influential work of the People’s Council.

“We heard from each of the four experts by experience who also joined us for the afternoon and learned more about their great work with people in services, that makes such a difference to people’s lives.

“Following the presentation, we had a very lively discussion about what we’d heard, where we can learn from each other’s lived experience and co-production practices and how we might collaborate – in areas including carer involvement and support and the reform of the Mental Health Act.

“All in all, a great afternoon and one which hopefully we’ll be able to follow up on soon.”

Four of our Experts by Experience shared their recovery stories with the Rethink team. Experts by Experience are people who have lived experience of using or caring for someone who has used health and / or social care services. In 2018, Cygnet became the first independent provider of healthcare services to invest in a full-time Expert by Experience Lead.

Our Experts by Experience help ensure the opinions of service users are heard and considered across the organisation and that feedback is actioned upon to improve our services.

Cygnet and Rethink are now hoping to work closer together on matters relating to Co-production and opportunities to have an impact on national policy through harnessing lived experience via our Experts by Experience.

Raf added: “It was a pleasure to welcome members from the Rethink team and we are really looking forward to working closer together on exploring policy change opportunities and how we can contribute from a lived experience perspective.”

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