Organisation dealing with clients with mental health problems sees an explosion in casework

An independent service which fights for the rights of people in Powys with severe mental health issues is taking on 15 new staff to deal with an explosion in its caseload

Advocate Kate Ross-Bowker with a client
Advocate Kate Ross-Bowker with a client

CADMHAS – the Conwy and Denbighshire Mental Health Advisory Service – now services a vast area covering all of North Wales and Powys.

It is part of the UK-wide independent advocate system set up in the wake of the Harold Shipman murders, the Greater Manchester GP who is estimated to have killed over 250 elderly and vulnerable patients at his practice in Hyde between 1977 and 1998.

Dealing with 1800 cases a year it deals with a large proportion of those for people, many elderly and suffering from dementia, who have no family and lack the capacity to make vital decisions on where and how they live, all on a budget of £1.2 million.

Its efforts have been praised by Lynette Viney-Passig, of law firm Swayne Johnson, a CADMHAS board member for over ten years who said: “The service that their dedicated team provide is so important and yet so little is known about it.

“It is a testament to the quality and dedication of their work that they have grown to cover such a huge area of Wales and with amazing dedication.

“Without them so many of the most vulnerable people in our society would have no-one to safeguard their interests, no-one to make sure their voice is heard and their wellbeing safeguarded.”

Director of Services Elfed Williams now leads a team which will have grown to 48 by the end of 2023 – in 2013 there were just six with the number up to 19 last year as their services expanded to deal with a rocketing caseload.

“As well as people suffering from dementia we also support people with anything from depression and anxiety up to those who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act or have severe issues like schizophrenia or serious brain injury.

“The majority are those with severe learning difficulties and increasingly with dementia as people live longer but it is anything that causes them to lack or lose capacity to take care of themselves.

“We are seeing an increasing number of people being referred to us and this could also be down to Covid and the greater isolation it has imposed which has been detrimental to so many people’s mental health.

“The cost of living crisis is increasing anxiety and mental well-being has been affected by factors like the lack of medical and social services while other voluntary organisations which might have helped in the past have seen funding shrink or disappear.”

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