Ensuring that the best mental health services are available for everyone living in Dorset is a priority for NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and our partner organisations.

To help us shape the future of these services we have been speaking to service users, local communities, support groups and staff working in mental health teams across the county.

A Project Champion Group (including people with lived experience of mental health, carers and health and social care workforce) co-produced a survey to gather views on current community mental health services for people in Dorset and understand how these services could be further improved.

We asked people what was good or helpful about Dorset’s mental health services, what they felt could be improved and to share their hopes, ideas or aspirations for services in the future. In light of Covid-19, we also asked people to share experiences of mental health services during the pandemic in Dorset.

The view seeking period ran for 8 weeks, taking place between 17 August and 9 October 2020.

The online survey was promoted widely by health, care and voluntary sector partner organisations across the Integrated Care System ‘Our Dorset’. We also advertised the survey widely through the media and radio, via websites and social media channels.

Paper and Easy Read versions of the survey were made available to ensure that everyone was able to access the survey to give their views. Dorset Mental Health Forum also set up a dedicated telephone line so that people had the opportunity to provide their views on the telephone.

Pre-Covid-19, we would engage with people face to face and go to where they are – attending forums and hosting drop in sessions to seek their views. The pandemic dramatically impacted on the way we work and so instead we hosted 72 virtual events online, using the same questions as the view seeking survey. Considering it was a new way of working, we were pleased with how well the technology worked and we received lots of positive comments about the sessions.

Please watch the video below to see NHS Dorset CCG Principle Programme Lead Di Bardwell’s introduction at our online view seeking events:

Alongside the virtual events, Healthwatch Dorset also engaged with people who are experiencing homelessness as well as people who use Drug and Alcohol Services. Their findings will be included in the final view-seeking report.

It was extremely humbling to hear about people’s personal experiences. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to meet with us and share their views or fill out the survey.

Themes are currently being identified from your feedback and we will be publishing the view-seeking survey very soon – keep an eye out on the MHICC webpage!

We will be using these themes to inform the co-design stage of the project – read more about this here.