Suffolk mental health service is reaching people ‘sooner’

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People with complex mental health needs are getting the support they need to live independently sooner thanks to changes made to the Suffolk Rehabilitation and Recovery Service (SRRS).

The service, which cares for men and women with a wide range of complex and enduring mental health issues, was launched in May 2015 by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

It replaced Chilton House, a 15-bed inpatient unit in Ipswich, where service users could remain for more than 10 years, and, by focusing more on rehabilitation and recovery, it has ‘completely changed the model of care’.

The 25-strong SRRS team offers intensive support, as well as an outreach service, and was able to discharge 13 long-stay service users into the community within 15 months.

It also returned five people to their local area for treatment and prevented three more from having to take out-of-area placements.

Ward manager Chris Platten said: “Chilton House was designed as a home for life, which meant that most of its service users had been staying for more than a decade. SRRS has completely changed the model of care.

“We now actively explore the idea of recovery with people, which has made a huge difference. We have changed the whole construct of what we do, and have been given the chance to paint our own picture, which I really appreciate.

“We took everything back to the bare bones so that we could make the best use of our existing workforce and further upskill our staff.

“We’ve introduced dedicated occupational therapy support, a new education and supervision structure and some psychology, which we hope to increase over the coming months as it is having such a positive impact.”