Joint NHS/MOD team reduces mental health inpatient stay
Nominated Category: Mental Health Award
Mental Health Inpatient Services
NHS MOD Inpatient Network, led by South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
The NHS MOD Inpatient Network’s aim is to reduce patients’ length of stay, optimising reintegration at the earliest opportunity into family and working life upon discharge.
A bed is identified for all patients within 4hrs of the referral and 2hrs of the referring DCMH, and care and discharge planning, in liaison with the Service Liaison Officer, start from day one of admission. Benefits to the patient include:
- Dedicated, evidence-based NHS services offering high quality care;
- Proactive approach to length of time in hospital leading to alternatives to inpatient services and reduced length of stay;
- Integrated care with the patient’s unit and Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH), thus aiding recovery and ease of access to the service;
- A culturally sensitive environment where patients are offered the services that they need and the place and way care is delivered: a choice of alternative provider is available based on patient, clinical or geographic need, with care packages tailored to individual need.
The Network consists of Joint Medical Command, Service Liaison Officers (SLO) & MoD Consultant Psychiatrists, 6 NHS Foundation Trusts & 2 NHS Scottish providers, led by South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and the Military Mental Health Bed Management Centre.
The most difficult challenge the NHS clinicians have faced is to continue to respond to the cultural needs of military personnel whose working lives and daily routines differ markedly from those of the civilian patient population. They have bridged the cultural gap by learning to understand and respond to the military environment, the roles and responsibilities of serving personnel, the day to day lifestyle in barracks, and the effects of active duty. Practical steps include:
- Undertaking honorary contracts
- Joint training sessions
- Site visits to MoD premises to see at first hand working, recreational and accommodation facilities
- Close working with Service Liaison Officers to ensure that appropriate ongoing community support is available to the patient prior to discharge
- Staying up-to-date on new military initiatives to reduce stigma and aid understanding.
The average length of stay and readmission rates have reduced considerably, and users perceive the overall care provided as very good, with staff seen as friendly, open-minded, helpful and receptive to patients’ needs.
Their relationship has enabled the team to improve care delivered, get people back to work, and at the same time develop new opportunities for staff development through shadowing and honorary contracts. Importantly, there has also been a significant reduction in MoD spend.