We have developed a model to support children and young people with mental health issues and help keep them out of hospital and at home with their families.
As part of Devon Integrated Children’s Services the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services provide community and home-based treatment for children and young people up to the age of 19 facing depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders and other mental health issues.
Virgin Care’s Assertive Outreach model helps build and improve the support networks around the children and young people enabling parents and carers to develop and practice the skills they need to confidently look after them and keep them safe.
The service has reduced the average number children and young people from Devon in mental health units from 30 in 2016 down to less than 10 saving the NHS more than £5 million a year.
When Virgin Care began providing the CAMHS service in 2013, as part of Devon Integrated Children’s Services, we inherited a long waiting list and more than 1,000 families were waiting more than the accepted 18 weeks to begin treatment. At the same time demand for the service was rising fast and CAMHS initially focused on increasing its capacity by more than 2,000 appointments per year to tackle both the backlog and the increasing demand.
Our clinical team addressed the challenge of reducing the number of young people who needed to be admitted to specialist units by engaging closely with families and previous service users and researching evidence from serious case reviews and incidents.
Working with commissioners NHS England and NHS North, East, West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group the team designed the new Assertive Outreach service which would allow young people with severe cases of anxiety, depression and emotional dysregulation to stay at home with support from their families.
The Assertive Outreach service has significantly reduced the number of mental health beds being used by Devon children from around 30 at any one time to less than 10 – saving the NHS more than £5 million a year.
It has also reduced the length of stay for those who are admitted by 35%.
Feedback from fellow professionals working in the inpatient units has been very positive.
“I value the Assertive Outreach team’s presence at Care Programme Approach meetings so we can start working and forming a relationship with a patient prior to their discharge.
The team’s assistance helps to accelerate the discharge process. I also value their availability and genuine desire to stay in touch and work jointly.”
Clinical Psychologist, Inpatient Unit, Plymouth
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