Reducing out of area placements for mental health care

Sheffield Health and Social Care staff have been implementing new models of in-patient care for mental health service users with the result that for the last three years no Sheffield residents have been sent out of the city for acute mental health care.

Five years ago the adult acute in-patient wards were under extreme bed pressures and large numbers of patients had to be sent to hospital out of the city.

In response to this situation, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust created a new care pathway from the community right through to developing a new, purpose-built psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU), which has recently opened.

As part of this work discharge co-ordinators are now based on each ward, a new team has been created for home treatment for older adults in crisis, a Crisis House was commissioned, and the crisis and home treatment teams for adults were enhanced. This work has resulted in substantially reduced length of hospital stays and no one has been out of the city due to lack of bed availability for acute adult beds for the last three years.

Kevan Taylor, chief executive, said: “We are fully committed to creating models of care which support service users’ recovery in their home city. Regular contact with carers, friends and family members are key factors in service user recovery and by redesigning our services we are making sure that service users are able to be supported with their recovery journey as close to home as possible.

“We would not have been able to make these significant changes without the hard work and commitment of our staff and, in particular, the skills, expertise and dedication of front line staff delivering compassionate and effective care and support to our service users.”

Mike Hunter, executive medical director, said: “The money that has been saved from the use of out of city beds is being used to enhance the staffing levels on our in-patient wards, increasing the ratio of staff to service users to help further support recovery. We have seen a corresponding increase in intensity on the acute wards, therefore, the increased staffing ratio is proving beneficial to support staff to deliver effective treatment and care.

“We have also used the savings made to invest over £1.8 million in our community mental health services. This has included investing in our Early Intervention Services (which treat people who are experiencing a First Episode of Psychosis), increasing the capacity of our community mental health services (including Home Treatment Teams) to work with people with complex needs in the community including increasing staff to service user ratios and setting up an intensive psychological therapy programme for people with a diagnosis of a personality disorder.”