Wider rollout for ground-breaking mental health crisis initiative

A ground-breaking initiative to transform mental health crisis responses is set extend across a wider geographical area.

Respond, a simulation training package for professionals in mental health crisis care, will be rolled out in parts of North Yorkshire and Cumbria following its successful launch in the North East.

The training simulates a mental health crisis scenario with video and audio clips, and group discussion in a safe environment. It brings together everyone in the crisis pathway – including doctors, nurses, police, paramedics, approved mental health workers and experts by experience – to explore their problem-solving skills, knowing that mistakes can be made without any long-term consequences.

By learning together, agencies can build closer working relationships and ultimately improve the experience of people in crisis.

Michael Southworth, Advanced Paramedic For North Cumbria, North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust said:

“It’s clear that Respond has been highly effective in helping professionals understand each other’s roles, respond quickly and work together to support people in mental health crisis.

“The training package can be easily replicated in different areas and can help to improve crisis responses in North Cumbria.”

The training was designed in the North East by agencies involved in the crisis pathway working alongside experts by experience, and delivered with support from the North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network.

Viral Kantaria, Project Manager for NHS England’s urgent & emergency mental health care programme, said: “Respond is clearly an impressive, innovative way that professionals from different sectors – health, social care, policing and more – can come together to better understand one another’s roles, responsibilities and skills.

“I can see great potential in this approach if it is supported by professional bodies – it appears quite easily replicable if tailored to other local areas.”

400 professionals in the North East have already completed Respond training, which is now accredited by the CPD certification service, so professionals can earn Continuous Professional Development credits for their learning.

Claire Andre, Clinical Police Liaison Lead at Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), said: “Experiential training, with the full range of agencies learning together, is the best way to gain the skills to handle these very stressful situations.

“Respond is unique in the way it helps professionals to experience the emotions and pressures, and understand each other’s roles more clearly. This is the key to a more integrated response so that people get the support they need – whatever service they turn to first.”

Sergeant Richard Poole of Devon and Cornwall Police is joint national lead for criminal justice and mental health for the positive practice collaborative, which brings together 75 organisations to learn about mental health together.

He said: “This is a ground-breaking approach to ensure that agencies, police and medical services work together positively to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society. It really is an innovative project and I am looking forward to taking it forward with our own staff and partners.”

Inspector Steve Baker of Northumbria Police said: “We have made huge strides in the way we deal with mental health in our region and Respond is a really innovative project.

“Every day our officers interact with vulnerable people who suffer incredibly complex mental health issues and it’s vital that we understand how we can improve the way we engage with them.

“Respond helps to educate our police officers and work closely with partners and service users offer an outstanding service to the people we serve.”

Terry Nelson, who represents Fulfilling Lives’ Newcastle and Gateshead Experts by Experience programme at national level, said: “Respond is a great learning experience, and it will make a real difference if it is rolled out to all emergency services. As an expert by experience, my voice was listened to and valued, working as an equal with the professionals throughout the process.”

Dr Stewart Findlay, chair of the North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network, said:

“We are working on a range of initiatives for better coordination of the urgent and emergency care system, easier access to GPs and pharmacists, and to reduce the pressure on emergency services.

“Respond can improve efficiency and help organisations have a better understanding of each other’s roles. That can mean a better patient experience, improve clinical outcomes and also contribute to our overall vision for the urgent and emergency care system.”

Further information about Respond is available from Amy.Rafter@ntw.nhs.uk. The project is supported by the Experts by Experience Group of Fulfilling Lives; Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust; Northumbria Police; North East Ambulance Service; Newcastle City Council; Northern England Strategic Clinical Network; and the North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network.