What about other forms of impact services have?

Further reflections from Miranda Wolpert

Colleagues have pointed out that my earlier blog Why we must set realistic expectations for outcomes in child mental health does not do justice to the positive impact of services.  Children, young people and families coming to services in crisis and distress may be helped to survive and cope both immediately and in the longer term. It may be hard for our current metrics to pick this up. It is worth noting that, of those who completed goals based outcomes (albeit a very small sample), almost all (9 out of 10) reported moving towards their goals.

We should celebrate the fact that we are starting to consider outcomes honestly and fearlessly in our complex area of work. There are, as yet, no national attempts to measure outcomes routinely  and nationally in many areas of health (for example in the child domain there are none I know of for asthma or epilepsy) and few areas of child healthcare routinely prioritise feedback and outcomes from patients themselves. We in mental health are pioneers in this regard; we have started on this journey and we have learned much about collecting and using outcomes data to reflect on the impact of services. As noted in the report there is a long way to go until we find the best way of considering all the varied forms of impact services may have.

We have been transparent about the limitations of the dataset collected. However, I would want to pay testament to the hard work and dedication of  all those in services who contributed the data underpinning our recent report, who were generally working in very challenging circumstances: without an integrated infrastructure for data collection, and at a time of huge pressure and demand on services. Data collection and collation going forward will be helped by the new national dataset that started to flow this year and by increased focus on considering data against our emerging understanding of realistic baselines.

This blog is written in Miranda’s capacity as CORC Director and cannot be taken to represent the views of any other organisation with which she is associated.