New group to represent interests of vulnerable adults in North Wales

A new group is being launched to protect and promote the interests of vulnerable adults with complex mental health needs in North Wales.

Care Forum Wales, the main representative body in the social care sector, is setting up a  Special Interest Group to drive up standards and give providers a unified voice.

One of the prime movers is trained psychiatric nurse Michelle Martin, whose company runs five specialist care homes in South Wales.

The aim is to look after the interest of Young Adults, between the ages of 18 and 65.

Care Forum Wales has already created a series of special interest groups throughout Wales so that different sectors of the care industry can share problems and ideas and get their views heard by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Policy Officer Melanie Minty believes the creation of the new group specialising in the needs of younger adults will be an important development.

She said: “Care Forum Wales is an umbrella body the creation of the group for adults with complex mental health needs means we all the specialisms covered.

“Most of the focus of society seems to be on children or the elderly, yet it is an area of increasing impact through drugs and alcohol misuse.

“We believe it is essential to represent the whole spectrum of social care needs in Wales.”

One of the prime movers is trained psychiatric nurse Michelle Martin.

While there are plenty of bodies to help those under 18, and older people over 65, Michelle feels no one in authority is asking organisation like hers how the service  for those in between can be improved.

Her special area of expertise is within the dual diagnosis fields of mental health, learning disability, substance misuse and forensic care.

Michelle, who runs five specialist care homes in South Wales, said: “I was very lucky when I started in the 80s it was the beginning of understanding that big institutions had to close and it took this long to close them.

“My career has always been about moving away from very large institutions and out into the community.

“When I started we had wards of 40 or more patients who did not even have their own clothes, they had what we called stock clothing. I had a passion to make a difference; I wanted to see people treated with respect and dignity, which was impossible in such circumstances even though there were a lot of good people working in the sector.”

“The problem with the NHS can be the hidden costs. With someone living in the community with special needs there can be trips to hospital, visits to the GP surgery for changes in medication, someone not collecting benefits and not paying rent, counsellors having to visit –  there can be huge financial costs from the chaos.

“Compare this with the use of a residential care home for a time where someone can learn living skills and find stability. We are not creating new institutions in the community, people need to be cared for.”

“We have to be realistic and not naïve, thinking we can make everybody well. But there needs to be joined up thinking about how the sector can truly help and break down some of the rivalry we have with each other to survive in business.

“In the voluntary sector you can have a three to five year contract when you know funding is in place. The independent sector is much more short term and there is a major problem with funding,” she said.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the plans for a special interest group can contact Policy Adviser Melanie Minty on 07969 489290 or or email her at

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