Photograph: Four wooden counters/pegs in different colours courtesy of Pexels

Community Mental Health Transformation Project 

What is the Transformation Project about?
Across City & Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Bedfordshire and Luton, we have been developing new ways of bringing together primary and secondary care with local communities to support people with mental health conditions. This pioneering transformation work is an ambitious programme of change, and involves lots of conversations with staff, service users and local citizens. Through focus groups and seminars, we will continue learning people’s views on what mental health in primary care networks could and should look like. 

Primary care networks (PCNs) are groups of GP practices that specifically focus on the needs of local populations. The transformation work aims to make more of an impact on the health and lives of groups and communities of people. Through more integrated care across mental and physical health and across health, social care, the voluntary sector and wider services, we will be able to test new ways of working within our PCNs in the context of a new national framework for community mental health services. 

Our QI work on population health - linked to ELFTs core mission to improve the quality of life for all we serve - has also given us lots of food for thought. Thank you to everyone who has been part of these discussions as your views really helped. Don’t worry if you haven’t had a chance to be part of these discussions as there will be more opportunities coming up.

So, what are we doing?
The idea is to support more people to look after their mental health in their local PCNs, by bringing together mental health services with GP practices, the voluntary sector, community groups and activities.
We want to be able to give more support to people with severe mental illness, who don’t meet the thresholds for secondary mental health services but need greater support in primary care. There are a number of people in City & Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets and Beds and Luton, who have severe mental illness but are not actively linked with ELFT. GPs tell us that these people don’t necessarily need the level of care that a community recovery team offers, but do need more support, often with life triggers like homelessness and financial insecurity, that can lead to a decline in their mental health.

How will we make it happen?
We will transform primary and secondary community mental health services across these directorates by working collaboratively. These teams will work hand-in-hand with a range of community workers from the voluntary sector, so that we connect people into local activities that they are interested in to promote good mental well-being and build on their own strengths and potential. This might be through music, sports and fitness, arts or social contact groups.

We are also looking to support people with the life issues that can trigger mental health problems, such as unemployment, housing and financial worries by working closely with Social Care and voluntary organisations that can help.

When people are first referred to ELFT’s services, we also want to be able to provide more brief interventions at the point of referral as well as connections into the community to prevent people needing to go on into longer term mental health care. This is because we know that if people get the support they need quickly it can help prevent their mental health deteriorating further.

By providing more support in neighbourhoods and primary care we will also be able to focus on more intensive and specialist support in the community recovery teams.

We have heard what residents, services users and carers have been telling us about wanting more support within their neighbourhoods such as; cafes, community centres, faith centres, libraries etc., and that’s why we are working with community organisations to do this together.

We will continue to asking people to get involved in lots of ways and will keep you posted on more opportunities. To find out more or let us know you are interested contact the following individuals for each borough:

Newham – justin.phillips@nhs.net
City & Hackney - nichola.gardner@nhs.net
Tower Hamlets – jamie.stafford@nhs.net
Beds and Luton - elizabeth.munday1@nhs.net 

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