An innovative approach to delivering mental health services in Cwm Taf is helping to speed up access to the right services for patients.
A ‘same to next day’ assessment service has been introduced as a pilot study in the Cynon Valley and is a radical change to the way patients are referred and assessed for mental health services in the area.
Referrals to these services are often complex and have resulted in people having multiple referrals to different services and attending a number of assessments which cause delays and frustration for both patients and staff. Response times are also varied and, depending on how patients are referred, can range from four hours to 28 days.
To tackle these issues the pilot, which is a joint project with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, has introduced an assessment clinic, made up of mental health nurses, social workers, members of community and primary care mental health teams and medical staff, where patients will have their assessments either on the same or next day.
Once this is complete and a decision is made, the appropriate treatment team receives the assessment and the patient will start their treatment as soon as possible.
All referrals in the area are managed through the assessment clinic, which means patients no longer have to attend multiple assessments, while staff are able to get a greater understanding of a person’s mental health issues as they are able to see them quickly.
It has also reduced the number of missed appointments where people did not notify they could not attend and allowed staff to benefit from the expertise and advice of other members of the clinic.
Initial results show missed appointments between April 2017 and April 2018 fell from 16.5% to 5.6% while response times have also improved with 24.4% of responses being within seven days of referral in April 2018 compared to 4.22% the previous year.
Phil Lewis, Head of Nursing for Mental Health, said: “This has been a really innovative piece of work involving many different individuals and teams who have come together to make a difference to patients.
“Mental health services are complex and there can be inconsistency. For example, the target for response to routine work in mental health is 28 days, yet there were parts of our service which responded on the same day.
“When someone needs treatment, having to wait a long time or undergoing numerous assessments and seeing different teams is not helpful. That’s why we challenged ourselves to look at what was working well and apply this standard across the service.
“We will be looking closely at the results of the pilot, including feedback we receive from patients, to consider how we might be able to replicate this work more widely across Cwm Taf.”