The coronavirus pandemic challenges health and social care services to alter the way they offer quality and effective care. Despite unprecedented pressure on the NHS, Lincolnshire mental health and learning disability services want to reassure that they continue to support people who may be struggling with their emotional and mental wellbeing.
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) staff have been working hard to ensure the current outbreak of COVID-19 doesn’t prevent them from helping people who need mental health or learning disability support. The Trust is keeping its services going as much as possible, and has made a number of alterations to how it operates to still be there for its patients.
The community mental health teams are now offering their services seven days a week (previously Monday to Friday). Service users are able to have telephone or video contact with their community mental health nurse and, in exceptional circumstances, face to face appointments are also available.
In partnership with health, social care and third sector organisations, the Trust has recently launched a new confidential mental health and emotional wellbeing helpline. It provides emotional support, advice and guidance for anyone who is feeling low, anxious or stressed. The helpline is open 24/7. This highly trained and experienced team of support workers can be contacted by calling 0800 001 4331.
The Trust has also further bolstered its support for people in mental health crisis who attend A&E departments at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and Lincoln County Hospital. A team of healthcare professionals from the Mental Health Liaison Service is now working 24/7 to provide rapid response and assessment for people who are experiencing severe mental health problems and need to attend the emergency department. Additionally, the Boston team has recruited staff with the specific expertise of learning disabilities and older adult mental health. They will offer short-term follow up therapeutic support for patients who otherwise might have re-attended A&E.
LPFT has also extended the role of their frequent attender coordinator across Lincoln, Grantham and Boston. This mental health practitioner works with a small group of patients who have frequently attended A&E, to ensure they have the appropriate treatment and care for their complex needs and they don’t need to go to emergency departments. The frequent attender coordinator works closely with acute hospitals, ambulance services, mental health services, primary care and housing to improve care for this group of patients.
To ensure that patients remain safe and are only admitted to hospital when absolutely necessary, LPFT has moved its inpatient wards for dementia and older adult mental health onto one site. The Trust has also introduced a new seven-day-a-week dementia home treatment service, in addition to its existing older adult mental health home treatment team. The countywide team of nurses and other mental health professionals will support people living with complex dementia in their homes, reducing the need for admission to hospital. The ‘hospital at home’ service ensures that vulnerable patients are only admitted to an inpatient ward as a last resort. This is particularly important in the current climate for the older adult population, with the risks associated with social contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris Higgins, Director of Operations at LPFT, said:
“During these uncertain times, we want to emphasise that Lincolnshire mental health and learning disability services are still offering vital support to anyone who is struggling with their emotional wellbeing, whether they are an existing service user or new to LPFT.”
“We have introduced new ways of working for many of our teams to ensure those in need can still access help. We are keen to play our part in the wider Lincolnshire health and care system supporting its resilience where we can. We plan to monitor these new or extended services and, if proven effective, we’ll look at keeping them going, to improve the patient care post coronavirus pandemic.”