Modernising mental health day services: a user-led success in Birmingham

Last year, I was fortunate enough to meet Jane Thakoordin. She shared with me some brilliant work that has been going on in Birmingham over the last 3 years regarding the modernisation of day services for people with mental health conditions.

The modernisation drove forward that most complex of issues that often involved lots of different views: moving from day centre provision to and offer that increases personalisation and continues to provide good support for people.

What I particularly liked about this work is how fundamental user involvement and direction at every stage of the process has resulted in an incredibly successful service for everyone, known as Support, Time and Recovery (STaR). For example:

  • STaR involves people who were once recipients of day services as volunteer workers in the service to the running social drop-ins and group work
  • There are now 18 user-led projects in the city to provide drop-ins, which provide a cost effective prevention pathway in the community using peer support
  • There is now a much stronger focus on personalised services, including through a bespoke 1-to-1 service using person centred planning tools that in themselves form a short term enablement pathway
  • The new, coproduced service has delivered a saving of £120k in its first year of operation whilst supporting more complex referrals in a more personalised way – namely, the fabled “more for less”

Jane has kindly shared with me some documents that contain more detail about the STaR service and how it came to be. These are embedded below and are:

  • A short paper explaining the background and context of the work, how it developed and the results its delivered
  • A short presentation providing an overview of STaR
  • An article from Mental Health and Social Inclusion featuring STaR
  • A video of the personal experience of Simon of STaR.

If ever there was an example of how user-led approaches can support local authorities to achieve service modernisation for people with complex needs that also achieves more for less, then this is it.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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