Last year, a wide range of community mental health support services across City & Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets, embarked on transforming the way they deliver care. Through the North East London Community Mental Health Transformation Programme, they aim to deliver new ways of working with primary care and in local communities to support people with mental health conditions. 

The ambitious programme got off to an excellent start, but then the pandemic hit and our plans had to be adjusted to reflect and respond to new ways of working. Despite the sudden change in all our lives, the programme continued to progress in earnest.

In November 2020, staff and service users leading the Transformation Programme, delivered an exceptional webinar to showcase some of the key learnings from the first year of the program, including the complexities, challenges and the issues encountered. The session was attended by over 100 people from within the Trust and external stakeholders and was well received by all. 
Watch it here

The work continued in January when the Transformation Programme team delivered two Assessment Framework Workshops, which fed into a much bigger Learning Set session on 10th February 2021.

The workshops facilitated great conversations with service users and carers, staff and partners around the current assessment process, the impact this has had on individuals and ways in which the process could be improved. Through the use of breakout sessions, attendees discussed how assessments were currently conducted and looked at specific questions such as - what an assessment means to different professional or service user groups; and what outcomes were important to them. They were also asked to develop a list of five guiding principles that should underpin an assessment framework for better outcomes and quality of care.   The feedback was very constructive and highlighted the many different experiences of people, more notably (among other factors), it revealed how important it was for the process to be more holistic in nature, eliminate the need for repeat assessments which can be re-traumatising, and to consider the health and social context in the assessment, while being a transparent, shared process. 
The workshops culminated in a Learning Set session in February, which was structured around the key learnings from the workshops and the idea of ‘sticky issues’ experienced within services with discussion on how to overcome them. 

Further workshops are in the planning stages and will be announced soon. 
The aim is to continue to gather more insight from those directly involved in the process to ensure that ELFT not only continues to provide good quality care through services but also to foster additional support at the neighbourhood level through community groups, cafes, libraries and faith centres. The teams will continue to work closely with a range of community workers from the voluntary sector, so that we connect people into local activities that they are interested in to build on their own strengths and potential and promote good mental well-being. 

Senior Programme Manager for Community Mental Health Transformation Programme, Jamie Stafford looks forward to building on the work, he says: “Working with such a wide range of staff and service users to develop our approach to assessment has been an amazing experience. We’ve been able to hear what has worked well in other settings, what hasn’t worked, and really focus on what really matters to people during an assessment. The positive feedback we’ve received on the framework is absolutely because of the strength of service users and clinicians’ voices in its development. We now need to think through how we operationalise this framework – so that assessment in our new care model feels kind, co-owned, personal, informative and leads to a wide range of health and social interventions”


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