THE WELSH VETERANS PARTNERSHIP
SEEKING THE BEST HOLISTIC CARE FOR WELSH VETERANS
RAISE AWARENESS OF NEEDS – IDENTIFY SHORTCOMINGS – PROMOTE SOLUTIONS
1. Background. Welsh Veterans Partnership is a voluntary organization that was inspired by a group of over 2000 Welsh Guards veterans and families that took part in a walk around the coastal path of Wales in 2013, under the banner of Walk on Wales. They perceived that the care for our wounded, injured and sick veterans and their dependents in Wales was not as good as it should be and starkly not as good as other parts of the UK; and that this affected not just the Welsh Guards but all three Armed Services.
2. Vision. So, as a legacy of this walk, in partnership with the many Walk on Wales supporters and other willing stakeholders, we aim to generate and enable better support for our Armed Forces veterans and their families in Wales. They deserve the best holistic care. We undertake, through ongoing research, to identify and confirm shortfalls; promote greater collaboration between all stakeholders and specifically enable signposting of care in the community; and clinical and non-clinical residential care in Wales.
Assessment of the need among veterans in Wales is notoriously difficult and resource- sapping. Many issues are confidential in nature, often slow to emerge and at the time of need, people can be lost in the jungle while looking for help. The Welsh Government is committed to caring for veterans and is informed and steered by an ‘Expert Group’ – the key stakeholders with executive responsibilities – HQ 160 Bde is part of that group. RBL assess that approximately 400,000 people in Wales could be beneficiaries of military charities if needs be. Of those requiring need, according to SSAFA, about 75% are likely to need assistance with home alterations in old age. For the remaining 25%, there is a growing proportion of those susceptible to stress disorder (currently assessed to be approximately 10%), which can take over 10 years to manifest itself. Although some will be subject to post combat incident stress, the majority of this is assessed to be related to lack of employment and financial difficulties.
(1) NHS Wales. The Welsh Government leads with a primary strategy of care in the community through NHS Wales GPs and referrals as necessary to Veterans’ NHS Wales. The interface with and understanding of the GP is the critical first step, followed by speedy and empathetic referral as required. Demand for therapy exceeds the supply of therapists. Referral times have been reducing and are now reported to be approximately on average 40 days but 60 days before treatment. This is still too long to be optimally effective. Veterans’ NHS Wales require more money to hire more therapists to enable the Service to match the requirements, which the Welsh Veterans Partnership will lobby for.
(2) Military Charities. There are over 2000 military charities in the UK but there appear to be fewer facilities in Wales compared with other parts of the UK.
(a) Coordination & Co-operation. COBSEO, the secretariat that oversees military charity efforts estimate that there is a requirement for a regional co-ordination body in Wales, such as the model used in Scotland. Until this is established, Welsh Veterans Partnership will promote mechanisms for closer co-operation and co-ordination – connecting veterans to veterans and veterans to the system of care.
(b) Residential. There is a paucity of residential support for the elderly and those requiring specialist or non specialist intervention quickly. However, there are some facilities: Haig Homes provide some permanent housing in Swansea and Cardiff, Alabare Homes provide temporary accommodation in Pontypridd, Carmarthen, Cardiff and N Wales (TBD) for the rehabilitation of civilians and veterans in need and St Dunstan’s Blind Veterans UK provide a residential home in Llandudno. Welsh Veterans Partnership believe that there is a need for a further residential facility in Wales.
(c) Transition to Work. Meanwhile there are charities that focus on assisting veterans into work. RBL’s new Pop In Centres provide the opportunity to log on to a system and meet consultants. Hire a Hero will also present opportunities. The Warrior Program is planning to open up its confidence building program in Wales which should be encouraged in a good facility. Change Step provides peer to peer mentoring support. Combat Stress has two Outreach Teams to signpost assistance.
(d) Funding Assistance. RBL, ABF and SSAFA and Regimental Welfare funds all provide financial support to those in need.
5. 2015 Priority Activities: During 2015, Welsh Veterans Partnership will:
a. Continue Research (hopefully in partnership with Cardiff University). Quantify veterans and the potential need for the next decade. Identify and confirm shortfalls in provision.
b. Raise awareness of the outline need and shortcomings across key executive stakeholders. Meet and discuss with the Expert Group. Focus is on potential requirement for:
1. Coordinaton of actions.
2. GP and NHS Sennedd briefing.
3. Residential options.
c. Develop a network of willing partners (Veterans-GPs –Providers-Supporters). Flagship Event to be a Welsh 1000 mile cycle ride 6-20 August, supported by a Battle Bus that will tour major towns and cities in Wales encouraging veteran registration, dialogue, efficient referral and revision of provision requirements. We would like willing partners to come on this.
d. Identify and promote sustainable solutions. Working with the public and private sector stakeholders, Welsh Veterans Partnership will promote activity to improve the holistic care for veterans in Wales. We already benefit from invaluable support from Enterprise Cars who have agreed to sponsor us with vehicles for our activities.
6. We shall be circulating details of the cycle ride as soon as we can. Please turn your name blue come and join in for as much or as little as you like. There is no compulsion to raise money, just awareness.
Thank you in advance for your support.
Chairman Welsh Veterans Partnership