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Acute mental health care closer to home

25th January 2024

Acute Mental Health Services in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust are proud to launch their improved care pathway which will help more service users with acute mental health problems to receive care in their own homes at the same standard as a hospital.

The Trust has redesigned and streamlined existing services to implement the standards outlined in the You In Mind Regional Acute Mental Health Care Pathway ensuring patients get the right care when and where they need it, with a focus on treatment at home, where it is appropriate and safe to do so.

Kiera Lavery, Head of Service for Unscheduled Care within Mental Health Services, in the Southern Trust said that the objective of the acute care pathway is to ensure every patient has their needs met at the right time and in the right place, with the least level of restriction.

“An inpatient bed is not always the best place for patients with an acute mental health problem. This new pathway ensures that patients have the services they need them and allows them to receive acute care in familiar surroundings with the help of our Home Treatment Crisis Response teams.

“Patients will be referred to the Home Treatment Crisis Response team, in a variety of ways including from the Integrated Liaison Service, Community Mental Health Teams or GP’s. The Home Treatment Team will carry out a mental health assessment and if it is decided that acute care is required they will seek to offer this at home. Home Treatment is acute care at home and is equivalent to what individuals receive in hospital on a 24 hour basis, seven days a week. This includes daily contact by nurses and support workers, Consultant review, required investigations, pharmacy input, alongside multi-disciplinary input, adequate out of hours cover and support on planning for discharge.

“In 2023/24, Our Home Treatment Team have looked after 486 patients that would otherwise have been admitted to hospital.”

Kiera said that they have had great feedback from patients who have received acute mental health care in their own home.

“We are delighted that our patients are staying well longer and have better recovery outcomes.”

One patient said: “I was referred to the Home Treatment Crisis Response team after being discharged from hospital. I trust them like I never have a service before and they have played a significant part in helping me. They are open, honest, treat me with dignity and give me as much choice as possible. They respect that I don’t consider myself mentally ill and as such allow me to make sense of my journey and experiences with what’s right for me.”

Over the past 14 months, the Trust has reduced inpatient bed occupancy by eight percent, by implementing measures to help to prioritise inpatient beds for those who need them.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Michael McBride visited the Trust as they launched the improved care pathway.

“This aligns with the high-level vision set out in the Mental Health Strategy 2021 – 31, which seeks to break down barriers so that individual patients and their needs are placed at the centre of their care, with access to the most appropriate, high-quality help and treatment at the right time and in the right place.”

Jan McGall, Director of Mental Health and Learning Disability said:

“One in four adults experience at least one mental health problem in any given year.

“In the Southern Trust we are constantly reviewing and realigning our services to ensure that we provide the best possible care to the population we serve.

“Our teams have been working exceptionally hard and have taken the regional Acute Mental Health Care pathway (which was co-produced with service users and their carers) and applied it to our existing services in the Southern Trust.

“I am delighted to see the advancement of our mental health services, ensuring our patients remain central to everything that we do.”