Mind and DrugScope urge action on adults with multiple needs

The next government should develop a national policy framework on adults with multiple needs to stop them falling into the gaps between services, a coalition of charities said today.

The Making Every Adult Matter (Meam) coalition said local public bodies should be required to identify adults with multiple needs, work together to support them and commission suitable services for them.

The calls came in a manifesto for the next government published today by the coalition, which comprises mental health charity Mind, substance misuse charity DrugScope, umbrella homelessness organisation Homeless Link and criminal justice charity Clinks.

The group, which is supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, is concerned that people who affected by combinations of substance misuse problems, mental illness, homelessness or criminality are falling through the gaps of a system designed around homogeneous client group, at great cost to the state.

Meam is calling for the next government to :-

  • Require local areas to identify people with multiple needs and exclusions using national guidance, addressing current limitations in national data
  • Accept the social and economic case for more effective services for adults with multiple needs given their current cost to the health, social care and criminal justice systems.
  • Develop a national policy framework on adults with multiple needs, including a duty on councils, criminal justice agencies and the NHS to work together, develop local strategies and commission suitable services. This should be prefaced by a green paper setting out options.
  • Ensure best practice is shared and the progress of individuals with multiple needs is tracked. 

The coalition, which was formed last year, said although progress has made made on addressing social exclusion, specific targets across government still did not include this group.

Meam project director Oliver Hilbery said: “In every local area, councils, services and the police can list individuals who face multiple needs and exclusions by name. But differing priorities and a lack of co-ordination can mean that they are passed from service to service, without ever getting the overall help that they need.

“The manifesto is a call to change that for good. A national framework that focuses on greater local co-operation would prevent people from falling through the gaps in services, improve our communities and ultimately be more cost-effective.”

He said the four charities had promised to tackle multiple needs and exclusions in their own services, and added: “We are now calling on politicians to make their promise and commit to the manifesto.”

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