The launch of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust's Home Engagement and Rehabilitation Team

NHS mental health pilot set for expansion following initial success

A pilot mental health service in the north west could be set for an expansion after its first eight months was heralded a success.

The service comes in the form of the Home Engagement and Rehabilitation Team (HEART) at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) which was set up to reduce reliance on mental health services and promote eventual independence.

From its initial launch last June to the February of this year, HEART has dedicated up to 2,500 hours of support to 15 patients, with six service users able to achieve successful discharge from long-term hospital stays and a further four expected to join them within the next quarter.

HEART provides intensive support to patients with complex needs throughout the discharge process; this could include everything from general physical and mental health care, all the way to providing guidance on budgeting, cooking or housing arrangements.

Unlike many traditional community mental health teams, HEART works with small caseloads but through extended working hours, allowing for enhanced support from dawn till dusk.

GMMH say this allows HEART – a team made up of psychology professionals, occupational therapists, care co-ordinators, recovery workers and senior practitioners – to deliver more personalised and tailored support based on a specific patient’s needs.

This, combined with the additional ground work done prior to discharge on the wards to build trusting relationships and establish continuity of care, speeds up discharge, smooths integration into the community and ultimately keeps long-term patients out of hospital.

GMMH’s Head of Operations for the Rehabilitation Division, Nigel Hird, said: “The HEART team provides intensive support to individuals who face barriers to discharge. We help solve these barriers, which could include anything from housing and finances to physical health concerns or establishing day-to-day routines.

“In the first eight months of our pilot, we have demonstrated that this support, which is tailored to the individual needs of our service users, is effective in supporting people to leave hospital and integrate back into the community safely. This has allowed us to help people, who were previously reliant on mental health inpatient units, to progress, whilst freeing up mental health beds for those who need them.

“Looking to the future, we hope to demonstrate that this intensive support model allows not only for an increase in discharges for individuals with complex needs, but also in a reduction in the rate of readmission longer-term. In time, we hope to roll this support service out to other GM areas, to maximise these benefits for residents.”

The team currently only operates in Manchester and Salford but is hoping for a wider launch into other Greater Manchester areas soon.

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