Forward Healthcare Awards 2021 finalists: five exceptional innovations in mental health

The Forward Healthcare Awards 2021 are here! The awards represent the very best of healthcare, and our judges have had the privilege of looking at some of the best projects in the healthcare space.

The awards are sponsored by CCube Solutions and will begin on 6 September 2021. During the awards, a full week of video and written content will go live on our website and our social media channels.

But before all of that, we’d like you to join us in casting an eye over some of the featured finalists. Below is a selection of contestants who are hoping to secure the award in the ‘Innovation in Mental Health’ category.

Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust/Whittington Health NHS Trust – respiratory outreach clinic

Our first entry in this category is from Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust and Whittington Health NHS Trust, who together have established a respiratory outreach clinic in the region, which aims to tackle substance misuse and the physical health problems this can cause for the local population.

The clinic is focused on finding smoke-related lung diseases in marginalised groups, which has led to close collaboration between the two trusts. The clinic is one of the first of its kind and offers a lung ‘MOT’ that gives an overview of service users’ lung health and offers intervention if necessary. The clinic is also supported by a specialist respiratory physician from Whittington Health.

During the period of August to December 2020 and April 2021 to present, 14 clinics have been held, with 42 appointments offered. A four-month follow-up has also been possible in 18 cases to date. Stop smoking services were actively working with 13 patients, with eight having given up smoking tobacco and a further five cutting down.

The staff mentioned that the new scheme has encouraged them to refer patients to the service, suggesting that the scheme had a profound effect on the culture at the two trusts. The project represents a close collaboration and an opportunity to learn from each other and share advice to improve the health and wellbeing of the local population.

Central and North West London NHS Trust – Kooth app

Central and North West London NHS Trust launched a new mental health app across local boroughs, which is targeted at improving the mental health of children and young people, specifically those aged 11 to 25. Previously, the app was only available in six north west London boroughs but in June the app was rolled out to all boroughs.

The Kooth app has a team of registered counsellors behind it to step in to support those suffering from poor mental health and usage of the app has risen by 42 per cent recently. The app has 24/7 support services, and self-help resources to encourage users.

Ross Graves, Executive Director of Partnerships and Commercial Development, Central and North West London NHSFT, said: “Kooth are a great partner who will make a difference, helping young people find the support they need more speedily. It’s also great to see all NHS organisations working together to provide a single service across the whole north west London.”

Dr Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Officer at Kooth, commented: “Digital mental health services such as Kooth offer young people quick and easy support for their emotional health without the usual waiting lists. This can reduce the need for specialist intervention services as the problem is treated when it first occurs and prevents it from escalating further.”

More recently, Kooth has joined up with NHS Kent and Medway CCG to offer the app to their 20 to 25-year-olds, too.

PRSB – personalised care planning standard

The Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) has recently reformed its personalised care planning standard for adults in the community who are living with severe mental health conditions.

Sarah Markham, one of the patient leads on the project, said: “As a patient I know from experience that there is nothing worse than having your clinical information stored in multiple data systems which are not always connected, and it can result in less-than-optimal treatment and outcomes.

“A standard for care plans will help to prevent this from happening and will support the digital sharing of care plans for people. It’s crucial to ensuring good quality healthcare, as well as positive patient experiences and outcomes.”

NHS England commissioned the organisation to establish the standard, and the project started last year. Recommendations have been made, such as including an “about me” section in a patient care record.

Dr Nilesh Bharakhada, Executive Clinical Director of Health and Care for the PRSB, said: “The care plan standard will help to support better partnerships between health and care teams and the people who use services by enabling individuals to feel more actively involved in their own care and support plan.

“By keeping people healthier in the community, we can improve their overall experiences, as well as reducing the number of emergency situations and the need for frequent hospitalisations.”

NHS Tayside – self-help mental health directory

NHS Tayside has released a new online self-help mental health directory to support wellbeing. The new directory is part of the organisation’s ‘Living Life Well’ scheme.

The directory has contact information for mental health organisations, charities and support groups, and was developed with public health staff, third sector partners and representatives from mental health special interest groups.

NHS Tayside Interim Director of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, Kate Bell, said: “We hope this online directory will be a valuable resource for anyone in Tayside, so that they know where to go to seek support or access to services, and also what is available to support them [to] look after their mental health and wellbeing.”

According to NHS prescribing statistics, around 93,000 people in the Tayside area of Dundee are taking medication for mental health illnesses.

A new final version of a strategy, which investigates mental health, is available online and includes an independent report on mental health services in Tayside.

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust – digital platform for children’s health and wellbeing

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has launched a single digital platform which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the Merseyside region. The platform is a result of a wider collaboration between 13 organisations across three clinical commissioning groups and is a single point of access innovation that uses one digital referral form.

When a referral is made using the form, a 24-hour target is set for the user to be triaged by a multidisciplinary organisational team.

Feedback from users outlined that the previous online services were hard to navigate and were confusing to use. The new platform has videos, and written content, for users to interact with while waiting for treatment.

The new platforms were formally launched in May and had resources validated by ORCHA, while the Cheshire and Merseyside Healthcare Partnership has indicated that the platform may be used in future at an ICS level. NHS England also highlighted the project as a case study and has supported it throughout.