A new study that aims to revolutionise the way in which mental health service users and their carers plan their care has been set up by universities and health trusts in Nottingham and Manchester.

The 5-year research programme will examine ways in which service users in England and Scotland can become more involved in the decisions made about their care. It also aims to be of benefit for mental health professionals.

The research is a collaboration between The University of Nottingham’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, the University of Manchester, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust.

It is funded by almost £2 million by the National Institute for Health Research Programme Grants for Applied Research.

Improving engagement

Professor Patrick Callaghan, from the University of Nottingham’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, who leads the Nottingham arm of the study, said that the work will improve people’s engagement with mental health services.

“Our previous research shows that people using mental health services want to be more involved in planning their care,” he said. “Working collaboratively with mental health service users and carers, we will develop a training package for mental health professionals and test whether this package helps improve care planning.”

The researchers will also produce a tool that measures service user and carer involvement in care planning.

“We need to know what changes are needed to mental health services in order to improve people’s involvement in care planning, so we will be asking key people involved to find out what helps and hinders service users’ involvement,” Professor Callaghan added.

Professor Mike Cooke CBE, chief executive of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We believe this programme will lead to improvements in the quality and purpose of care planning and will be of significant benefit to service users, carers and staff in our services and the wider health community.”