The Community Mental Health Framework for Adults and Older Adults

The Community Mental Health Framework for Adults and Older Adults (CMHF) describes how the NHS Long Term Plan’s vision for a place-based, community mental health model can be realised and how community services should modernise to offer whole-person, whole-population health approaches, aligned with the new Primary Care Networks.

This webpage explains more about the framework, how it works and provides links to useful resources and case studies for mental health social workers and local authorities, to help them to implement the framework.

The framework allows for a shift to a new model of community mental health provision, designed on an asset-based view of communities and integrated working across agencies, rather than a traditional Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) model.

At the core of the framework is the idea that primary care, secondary care, specialist care, social care, housing, voluntary sector and commissioned providers should work together in a seamless way, with people who use services at the centre of service provision and much more involved in their own care and support.

The CMHF and social workers

The CMHF model means that NHS community mental health services are more likely to be developed in line with community-led social work models that are working to a strength-based model of personalised support under the Care Act.

In the past, local authorities have placed social workers within integrated teams under NHS control as the best way of delivering joined-up services. This model has not always been successful and local authorities are now developing new models of provision that are focused on personalised care and support planning based on Care Act principles.

The publication of the CMHF, alongside the recent NHS commitment to personal health budgets, will give health and social care commissioners the opportunity to develop new models of integrated community mental health working.

Piloting the CMHF

NHS England has identified 12 areas to pilot this approach before funding is rolled out over the next four years.

Each of these Integrated Care Systems or Sustainable Transformation Partnership areas has made a commitment to work in close partnership with local authorities, social workers and the social care, voluntary and community sectors.

If you are working in or alongside an NHS Trust that has been successful in bidding for the CMHF pilot, you can keep in touch with other groups and their progress in implementing the pilots by contacting us here.

The workforce implications of the CMHF programme for social work

The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20-2023/24 outlines some of the workforce challenges of the CMHF programme, including for social workers.

The plan outlines how the investment in mental health services will be spent and the extra workforce commitment required across the main areas of development, including an extra 660 social workers within community mental health, children and young people and rough sleeping initiatives.

This will be useful for local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) workforce leads and commissioners, who are planning to develop these services in partnership.