25 March 2021

ELFT's Richmond Wellbeing Services have been working with IT world leader Cisco Systems, to provide vital therapeutic care to service users during the COVID-19 lockdown. Particularly at this time, when mental health risks have increased, the challenge has been to ensure that no-one is excluded from accessing services.

The Service offers a range of psychological therapies for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder; a psychiatry service; mindfulness therapies to reduce stress; and social support to manage isolation resulting from COVID-19. The service provides care to over 6,500 people a year, which is usually all undertaken face-to-face.


Due to the pandemic this had to quickly shift to virtual consultations, either via telephone or video call, using Cisco Webex. However, one in seven people across the borough do not have access to a laptop and digital communication technology at home, or a private space to access services confidentially.

To ensure care is inclusive for everybody, Cisco and ELFT created onsite ‘digital pods’ for those who needed to travel to the centre. In a COVID-19 safe environment, patients can access a screen with Webex video technology, connecting them to a consultant in a separate room. With a stable Internet connection and easy-to-use technology, the pods don't rely on patients having any technical skills – meaning it is a service accessible for those nervous about digital consultations.

Consultant Psychiatrist and Lead Clinician for ELFT’s  Richmond Wellbeing Service, ​Professor Ben Wright said: "Our priority was to create an environment suitable for therapeutic clinical work to take place. For those who couldn’t access this at home, the new digital pods we created with Cisco have allowed our services to continue.

"We always focus on providing the highest standard of care, and particularly at this time of heightened anxiety about safety and wellbeing, we needed to put everyone at ease.

 “Not only have we been able to maintain service delivery, we’ve also noticed a significant reduction in disengagement and an improvement in recovery rate – with an additional 5-8% patients making a full recovery.

"Cisco has shared our dedication to provide a consistent, reliable and high-quality care to patients, which we value very much.”

 Justin Woolen, Head of Collaboration, Cisco UK & Ireland, added “The staff at Richmond Wellbeing Service do the most incredible work – and have continued to provide vital services, in exceptional circumstances. Working together, we were able to quickly create a digital service that was inclusive for everyone. It shows how remarkable people, coupled with forward-thinking, reliable and secure technologies, can make a real difference to people’s lives.”