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Staff work with the local community to improve care in a mental health crisis

04 Dec 2015

Staff, service users and carers at West London Mental Health Trust have taken part in an innovative event to help improve care for people in crisis.Test my story

More than 80 people took part in a lively, interactive workshop at Ealing Town Hall to help redesign services by testing out how mental health workers should best respond in different crisis scenarios.

Using a new approach to designing services, actors staged five different crisis scenarios in a typical 24 hours in local urgent mental health care. The participants then debated what would make care and treatment better. The scenarios included a self-harming young man hearing voices at Ealing Broadway Station; a suicidal woman turning up at A&E at 4am; and a 67-year-old man with dementia detained by police after being found in a confused state in a shopping centre. A psychiatrist, GP and local people with lived experience took to the stage to act out what they would do in real life in these situations, set in the three boroughs served by the trust – Ealing, Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham.

Staff and other participants helped design the patient stories in advance using an interactive website and Twitter. The event was organised by the West London Collaborative, a local social enterprise brokering solutions to local health and social care challenges. There was animated audience discussion about what services should do after each scenario was played out, with representatives from Ealing police and the ambulance service contributing, together with mental health professionals from the trust. A panel of experts told how services would respond in reality and took questions. The event was one of a series taking place with staff and patients co-producing (developing in partnership) improved mental health services.

The trust’s associate director of local services, Paul Meechan, was on the panel.

Mr Meechan said afterwards: “It was fantastic how many people took part in this event and it was a productive day. It was all about giving people the care they need and want in a crisis when they are at their lowest ebb. This is a time when people with mental health problems deserve the very best care and the same quick and easy access we all expect from emergency services when we have a physical health emergency.”

“There were some really useful insights today which have given us all food for thought. We’re going to take away what we’ve heard and will study very carefully the findings from the day and use this to ensure services are really tailored to people’s needs.”

The West London Collaborative was commissioned to run the day by the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The trust is working with service users, carers, staff and stakeholders to ensure the new urgent care and access service, expected to launch April 2016, offers:

  • Quick and easy access to care 24/7
  • Care closer to home or at home, where possible, with friends and family close by as an alternative to a hospital admission where possible
  • Preventative help to head off crises and keep people well by joining up physical, mental and social care.