Open access Care clusters in mental health and co-production of care – towards a more lay friendly set of cluster descriptions

Sally Denham-Vaughan, Michael Clark (2012)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion 16 2 79-83


Purpose – This paper aims to critically examine the care clusters descriptors now being introduced in mental health care in England and to discuss them in the context of trying to further approaches to co-production (and related concepts), and social inclusion and recovery. The paper seeks to introduce a revised set of cluster descriptors that are more lay friendly and that, hence, would be likely to encourage more service user engagement in care. Design/methodology/approach – The care cluster descriptors are critically examined within the context of desires to engage service users in care and encourage staff to explicitly consider individual strengths as well as needs, i.e. co-production of care between active service users and providers. Findings – The implementation of care clusters and the development of new organisations of care based on these present opportunities to further develop in progressive ways how care is planned and developed. The cluster descriptors, however, are not an ideal basis for this. Being designed for one purpose the descriptors do not encourage thinking about individual strengths nor are they very lay friendly. They are not seen as an ideal basis for more actively engaging individuals in the planning and organisation of their care packages. Hence, revised descriptors felt to be more suited to this are presented. Practical implications – Furthering more recovery oriented and socially inclusive practice in mental health care requires that each part of the system encourages all individuals involved to think in these ways. As the starting point for thinking about care, it is essential that cluster descriptors also work in this way. Services need to consider how the existing cluster descriptors impact on how individual care is thought of and delivered and consider using revised ones for some purposes, especially for engaging individuals in their care. Originality/value – The care clusters being introduced in mental health care in England need to support progressive developments in care. This is the first time the cluster descriptors have been critiqued from the perspectives of recovery orientation and co-production.